News From Terre Haute, Indiana

From the Press Box

April 19, 2012

TODD GOLDEN: IHSAA debate interrupts more pressing issues

PLAINFIELD — State Senator Mike Delph has sowed a 15-year-old wind and put the emotional class basketball debate back on the public’s mind. A decade and a half after multi-class basketball was implemented, single-class advocate Delph and the IHSAA have joined forces to conduct 11 public meetings on the topic of class basketball.

I went to high school in Indiana. I’ve covered Indiana high school basketball for most of my career and I’m proud of it. I understand and care about its unique place in our state’s culture.

I was also a single-class basketball advocate. I still am — I guess — so much as I think about it anymore ... which is next to never.

Nonetheless I pressed play on Huey Lewis & The News “Back In Time,” jumped into my DeLorean time machine, selected “1996” and attended the meetings in Vincennes on Monday and in Plainfield on Tuesday.

What I found out is that in sowing the wind, Delph has reaped a whirlwind of chirping crickets.

A grand total of 46 people attended the Vincennes session. Ohhh-kay. Vincennes isn’t very big, but maybe the meeting in Plainfield — the only one of the 11 scheduled for the Indianapolis area — will draw more of a crowd.

It did. There were 57 people in the Plainfield High School auditorium. Some weren't even media or IHSAA staff.

The Indianapolis metro area has a population of 1,756,241. That means 0.0032 percent of denizens in Indiana’s largest metropolis took the time to let their voices be heard on a topic that is allegedly the fabric of what our state is all about.

But wait — there’s more.

More than half of the crowd at Vincennes was comprised of small-school administrators who came to protect their multi-class turf and give Hosannas to the highest as to how wonderful the multi-class system is for their schools. Which is fine, but the potential ticket-buying public who came to wax poetic could almost literally be boiled down to a handful.

The mix was better at Plainfield — there were as many actual fans there as there were school officials who came to trumpet their own agendas.

But that’s not what stuck out. What tied both sites together — other than the masses of empty seats — was that most of the folks long ago qualified for AARP status. Between the two sites, a grand total of one speaker (a former North Knox athlete) was under the age of 25.

I bring this up only because, with respect to people of a certain age, the demographic there wasn’t exactly the stuff that future growth is culled from.

So far as I could tell, there were no student-athletes whatsoever at either gathering. Student-athletes — you know — the people who actually take part in whatever system is being discussed. Not a soul.

I talked to some of the folks who came — some of whom do care and who did speak passionately and eloquently one way or another. But I came away with the feeling that this retro debate was a needless distraction from a larger issue.

Delph is a nice, well-mannered man. I talked to him and I think his passion for the single-class system is geunine. But let's not go nuts with the altruism. He also attached a single-class basketball proposal to an education bill and effectively told the IHSAA to re-address this issue or else. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to surmise that these meetings were taken up at the point of a political gun.

It’s Political Grandstanding 101 on Delph’s part, but given the lack of turnout, it hasn't worked in his favor so far.

It could be surmised that maybe these meetings were part of some Star Trek-style, three-dimensional chess play by the IHSAA to show Delph that grassroots passion for this issue doesn’t exist as it did in 1996.

But the IHSAA has been played too. While the turnout at these dog-and-pony shows shouldn't be overemphasized, it does lay bare the fact that a significant portion of this state shrugs its collective shoulders and no longer has the passion it once did for Hoosier Hysteria -- no matter what system is used.

And that’s sad.

The IHSAA’s arcane ways have made its state tournaments in all sports staid. Almost nothing new is tried and what is tried isn't introduced/marketed to the public in any meaningful way. What few innovations are implemented can only be done for the benefit of a school-administrator voting bloc whose ideas are often at odds with the tax-paying and ticket-buying public that funds high school athletics to begin with.

No matter how you feel about multi-class sports, it’s undeniable it has killed the local rivalry component in all but a few of the 64 sectionals. The sectionals were the lifeblood of the old tournament, not the state tournament. Nothing has been done to infuse that lifeblood back into the format since.

The public has, in large part, responded to the lack of receptiveness to their desires by the IHSAA by voting with its feet as it has walked away from its state tournaments in droves. Aside from the participating communities and schools, the statewide buzz surrounding Hoosier Hysteria has come perilously close to nonexistent.

The IHSAA doesn’t need to be distracted by a single-class or multi-class basketball debate. It’s a red herring sideshow. The IHSAA must innovate and must take a hard look at everything it does. It has to find a way out of its deep-seated torpor before interest (and money) begins to erode at the community level instead of merely at the state tournament level.

Everything needs to be on the table and assessed in an effort to re-engage the public interest. Proportional enrollment (lose it), postseason seeding (implement it), the number of classes (I prefer two), the way sectionals are assigned (to re-establish local matchups), the amount of teams that go to the state championship itself -- my personal opinion is that the semistates are a waste of time and that regional champions should advance into a four-team-per-class, multi-day state championship that will get more corners of the state engaged in it.

The good news is that IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox does seem more willing than past IHSAA brass to listen to new ideas. He trumpeted his own, a “success factor” that would, in effect, introduce a rough version of European-style promotion and relegation between the classes for schools that come to dominate a sport in a certain class. It is a fascinating idea, though a bit flawed in scope and execution. I'll detail Cox's idea in a later space.

But that's just one idea among many that need to be considered. Pining for the good old days of single-class basketball is all well and good, but it won't be enough to keep the public engaged in high school athletics in the future.

Turning over a new, receptive, proactive leaf is what will keep the IHSAA relevant. Not turning back the clock.

Todd Golden is sports editor of the Tribune-Star. He can be reached at (812) 231-4272 or todd.golden@tribstar.com. Follow Golden on Twitter @TribStarTodd.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
From the Press Box
  • Todd Golden: Bigelow part of Action Track’s lifeblood

    Many things have changed since the Terre Haute Action Track opened in 1952, but the one constant is dirt.

    July 18, 2014

  • From the Press Box: Simple sports pleasures are best

    Andy Amey is the undisputed king of vacation columns in the Tribune-Star’s annals. I just returned from vacation, and while there were certainly tales to tell, I’m left with fond memories of simple sports pleasures.
    My family and I spent an extended weekend in Kansas City? Why? Why not? Truthfully, it was close, there’s a lot to do there, and we didn’t want the headache and expense of a long-haul vacation. We had a great time.

    July 8, 2014

  • SPT 030914 ODUM FILE.jpg Steady success: ISU continued to climb ladder with one of its best overall seasons ever

    First of all, if you’re an Indiana State fan, stand up and applaud. The Sycamores collectively went where only one Sycamore athletic department went before in 2013-14. ISU finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference All-Sports Trophy standings. ISU recorded a score of 3.538, its highest in school history.

    June 25, 2014 6 Photos

  • FROM THE PRESS BOX: Appeal of World Cup is communal

    Columnist explains appeal of World Cup.

    June 21, 2014

  • Todd Golden: Indy 500 book is intriguing look into an important era

    Doing the job I do, I get my share of books sent to me at the office. I hate to admit it, but a lot of them cross my eye for a moment, and like anyone else, if the subject matter doesn’t interest me, I don’t open it.

    June 13, 2014

  • SPT 053114 MITCH HANNAHS.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone

    ISU coach Mitch Hannahs strikes pitch perfect no-excuse, no-apology tone.

    May 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Todd Golden: Good times for ISU athletics

    I wish I had a time machine. Would I use it to correct some wrongs in my life or witness some important events in history? Sure, but that’s not what’s on my mind this instant. I’d love to go forward in time to see how the state of Indiana State’s athletic department from the present is perceived in the future.

    May 28, 2014

  • From the Press Box: Indiana lacking killer instinct against Wizards

    After Indiana eeked out a seven-game series win over Atlanta, I opined that I thought the Pacers could only truly declare themselves “back” if they took care of an emerging, but still young, Washington team in six games or less.
    After a rousing Game 4 comeback in Washington on Sunday, it appeared the Pacers were ready to do just that. Leading 3-1 in the series, the Wizards limped into Indianapolis on Tuesday and seemed ripe to be closed out by the invigorated Pacers.

    May 14, 2014

  • Todd Golden: Elite athletes? TH bows to no one

    Maybe instead of a new swimming complex, Terre Haute ought to built itself an ice rink. I mean no disrespect to swimming, but ice hockey is the only sport that Terre Haute can’t unequivocally claim an elite athlete in.

    April 23, 2014

  • SPT 101406 WALTMAN PRACTIC.jpg TODD GOLDEN: Waltman's integrity helped him rise to the top

    When I began to think about former Indiana State coach Royce Waltman — and I’ve thought about him a lot in recent months as the ravages of a stroke and cancer robbed us of his presence — I thought to myself “what can I print?”
    Waltman was many things. Blunt, plain-spoken, unfiltered? All of the above and more. Every Indiana State fan saw Waltman in action … and I had a front row seat for three years right next to him on press row.

    April 8, 2014 3 Photos 1 Story

  • SPT 040514 COACH HANNAHS.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Missouri Valley is tough — ISU making it tougher

    For those who measure the quality of a conference by their place in the Ratings Percentage Index, it was a tough year for the Missouri Valley Conference and its marquee sport: men’s basketball.
    The MVC was 11th in conference RPI and took all manner of criticism when Wichita State ran the MVC table for a perfect 18-0 season. The fingers that pointed at the league for fielding a weak challenge to the Shockers’ dominance were many.

    April 5, 2014 2 Photos

  • TODD GOLDEN: ISU's no-excuses approach for real

    If you were to ask me what the drawback of covering Indiana State baseball is? I’d be hard-pressed to name very much.

    March 29, 2014

  • SPT 030914 ODUM BAKER.jpg Todd Golden: Sycamores ran with the best

    It’s hard to run with Secretariat. Secretariat, for the uninitiated, won horse racing’s Triple Crown in 1973 and famously stormed to victory in the Belmont Stakes by an unfathomable 31 lengths. Secretariat is widely considered to be the greatest thoroughbred of all time, and his Belmont performance is one of sports’ all-time greatest moments. In Missouri Valley Conference terms, Wichita State is Secretariat.

    March 10, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT 030814 ODUM GRAB.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Odum rises to WSU challenge

    When you’re getting ready to play the No. 2 team in the country — the undefeated No. 2 team in the country and the best Missouri Valley Conference team in a generation — the unwritten rule says you’re not supposed to rile them. That you’re not supposed to poke the hornet’s nest.

    March 9, 2014 2 Photos 2 Stories

  • MBBMock_packagephoto.jpg From The Press Box: The nuts and bolts of compiling a Mock Selection for the NCAA Tournament

    Before March Madness comes the March mystery of the run-up to Selection Sunday.

    February 17, 2014 3 Photos 1 Link

  • SPT 020514 ISU FANS STAND.jpg From the Press Box: Loss couldn’t ruin great day for ISU, Terre Haute

    When I write, and when I can, I like to give myself a bit of time to soak in what I’m going to write about. After Indiana State’s 65-58 loss to No. 4 Wichita State on Wednesday, I went home, had a bite to eat and pondered what I thought the night was all about.
    I knew ISU’s disappointment cut deep. Really deep. A cruel reality of sports is that losses linger on in the memory with greater resonance than wins often do. Given the shots that rattled out, fell short and missed the mark in the final five minutes, this is a defeat that will, sadly, dog the Sycamores tonight, tomorrow and 20 years from now.

    February 6, 2014 2 Photos

  • FROM THE PRESS BOX: Little to lose, a lot to gain for Indiana State

    It’s hard not to get excited about today’s Missouri Valley Conference summit meeting between co-leaders Indiana State and Wichita State. Who wouldn’t be?

    January 17, 2014

  • From the Press Box: I’ve seen the enemy … and it’s the double bonus

    I’ve seen the enemy.
    I’ve seen it turn the game of basketball from one of exciting flow into a nonstop parade of tedium. I’ve seen it morph hundreds of what would-be thrilling, last-minute, end-to-end conclusions into foul shooting exhibitions that suck the life out of a gym or arena near you.
    It’s the double bonus. It’s a scourge, one that is often overlooked when ideas on how to make the game more entertaining or to speed the game up are put forth.

    January 3, 2014

  • tsgolden From The Press Box: If ISU figures out defense, look out

    The Great Alaska Shootout is not going to provide the Great RPI Bump that Indiana State’s participation in last year’s Diamond Head Classic provided.

    December 1, 2013 1 Photo

  • From the Press Box: Damage is done for ISU football

    As a parent and a professional, there’s a bit of advice I’ve tried to pass along that I’ve found to be true.
    No matter what you happen to be doing — whether it be job performance or just your own personal behavior — you can do the right thing for a period of time, even the vast majority of the time, but all it takes is one slip and the goodwill you’ve built up can be gone in one fell swoop.
     

    November 24, 2013

  • TODD GOLDEN: Munn, Odum want to make paper accomplishment a real one

    When it comes to Missouri Valley Conference Media Day, it has historically been a kick in the gut for Indiana State's basketball teams.
    But not this year. For the first time since formal MVC preseason polls began in the mid-1980s, the Sycamores rule the MVC roost.

    October 31, 2013

  • tsgolden TODD GOLDEN: Colts fans paid Manning ultimate tribute

    Peyton Manning’s return to Indianapolis was many things — the return of a beloved prodigal son, a battle of Colts’ No. 1-draft-pick quarterbacks and last, but not least, the visit from one of the AFC’s last reminaing undefeated teams — but most of all, it could have been a battle for the Colts’ fans soul.

    October 21, 2013 1 Photo

  • From The Press Box: ISU in top 2 of top-heavy MVC

    Change doesn’t often come to Missouri Valley Conference basketball. Until this season, it had endured with the same 10 members since the mid-1990s. But the reality of conference realignment finally hit the MVC where it lived last spring as Creighton departed for the new Big East Conference. The MVC responded by adding Loyola University.

    October 13, 2013

  • USDvISfb-84468.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Sycamores shocked by 1-5 start to season

    It was a play that not only symbolized Indiana State’s 17-14 loss at South Dakota on Saturday, but perhaps the Sycamores’ entire season.
    Down three with 6:39 left in the fourth quarter, ISU faced third-and-9 from its own 39. ISU ran Shakir Bell to the left and the senior standout had daylight.

    October 12, 2013 1 Photo

  • SPT 091513 GRIMES PICK.jpg From The Press Box: An avoidable loss

    It couldn’t last forever.

    September 15, 2013 3 Photos

  • From The Press Box: Colts dodge bullets ... it's what they do

    Just a few minutes into the second quarter, it seemed Colts fans could kick back and enjoy a Sunday on Easy Street.

    September 9, 2013

  • SPT 090713 SANFORD HAZELL.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Indiana State proves plenty in 20-14 loss at Purdue

    No moral victories?
    Bull. Its always been bull and it will always be bull. The Sycamores proved again that moral victories are very real, and can be very rewarding.
    All they needed to do to prove it was to look at the stunned faces of the Purdue faithful at Ross-Ade Stadium in the Sycamores’ near-miss 20-14 loss to Purdue.

    September 8, 2013 4 Photos

  • From the Press Box: Stipends? No. Off-field income? Oh yeah, bring it on

    The war flags have been raised. The trumpets have sounded.
    With the Johnny Manziel autograph hullabaloo and the ongoing Ed O’Bannon suit against the NCAA for using his likeness as background, many have rallied to the battle standard of stipends as a means of compensating NCAA athletes who are allegedly being exploited for income by their universities.
    This rally cry has a particular resonance among those in my profession, many of whom dislike the current system, and who detest the NCAA with a virulent passion.

    August 15, 2013

  • TODD GOLDEN: Golf ... the beast within?

    Like many sports fans, my interest in professional golf is confined to the four major tournaments. Many prefer the Masters, some like the back-to-roots British Open, but I’ve always liked the U.S. Open the best.

    June 16, 2013

  • McNichols and Swift 1.jpg FROM THE PRESS BOX: Close, but no cigar, theme for ISU sports in 2012-13

    When I covered my first event of Indiana State’s 2012-13 season — ISU’s opening football game at Indiana — I was the first one in the press box at IU’s Memorial Stadium. I’m never the first one in the press box.
    Maybe the prospect of ISU’s season had me so pumped that I decided to get it started close to three hours early? (Or more truthfully, maybe I was over-vigilent about predicted traffic horrors on the Indiana 46 bypass that never came to pass.)

    June 9, 2013 4 Photos

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return Six Indicted in StubHub Hacking Scheme Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Former NTSB Official: FAA Ban 'prudent' Biden Decries Voting Restrictions in NAACP Talk Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Raw: Truck, Train Crash Leads to Fireball Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in the Netherlands EPA Gets Hip With Kardashian Tweet
NDN Video
LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot Samsung Pre-Trolls The IPhone 6 With New Ad Jimmy Kimmel Introduces His Baby Girl Swim Daily, Nina Agdal in the Cook Islands Guilty Dog Apologizes to Baby for Stealing Her Toy Prince George Turns 1 and is Already a Trendsetter Train Collides With Semi Truck Carrying Lighter Fluid Kanye West Tells-All on Wedding in "GQ" Interview Tony Dungy Weighs in on Michael Sam Scarlett Johansson Set To Marry In August New Star Wars Episode XII X-Wing Revealed Obama: Putin must push separatists to aid MH17 probe Michigan inmates no longer allowed to wear orange due to 'OITNB'
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity