Throwback Thursday: Celebrating the Hickory Huskers in Knightstown

My lovely girlfriend surprised me with an hour-long shoot around at the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown last Saturday. The gym, of course, was the home of the fictional Hickory Huskers in “Hoosiers” (1985) — loosely based on the Milan High School team that won the state title in 1954.

We actually viewed the movie together before driving over to the gym, where we would ultimately compete in a few heated games of HORSE. (And it’s not important who won or lost two out of three — so don’t ask me because it’s a sore subject.)

Because “Hoosiers” is my favorite film, this experience was a long time coming. It’s not only my most beloved movie, mind you, but it also includes my favorite film quote: “My team is on the floor.”

Ah yes, a valuable lesson about principle for young Rade. (Trying to circumvent the four-pass mandate will get you nowhere, my man.)

We were shown around by the gentleman on site, and he told us how producers came to choose the gym largely thanks to the work of Knightstown resident Peg Mayhill, who persistently lobbied the Indiana Film Commission during the selection process.

He also took us down into the locker rooms. I found this intriguing because I’d always assumed they filmed the locker room scenes in another location — one of those trademark Hollywood “tricks.” But no, they were down there basking in all their quaint glory.

The gym’s web site also has more on how the gym was initially built:

In 1920, the Knightstown Community School had no gymnasium. Basketball games were held in Bell’s Hall above Jolly’s Drugstore and in the basement gym of the Presbyterian Church. It was clear: the school needed a gymnasium of its own.

In February of 1921, a half dozen Knightstown businessmen met to discuss the situation. They were aware of the fact that Knightstown was lagging behind other towns in the development of a children’s athletic education and believed that area young people were entitled to physical education.

After much debate, a plan was developed and approved. A new gym would be built. Within weeks, their campaign raised more than $14,400 with donations from more than 250 private citizens and several local businesses. Construction started in the summer of 1921 and the gym was ready for use by December 1921. The first high school basketball game in the gym is believed to have been on November 25, 1921. Final score Knightstown 10, Sulphur Springs 11. The first victory for the Knightstown Falcons came on December 2, 1921 against The Indiana School for the Deaf, winning 20-18 in overtime.

Oh, and as far as you know, I made this free throw (pictured).

PS – For more about the gym, see this interesting post on Hidden Gyms. Additionally, the gym offers group tours and can host events, like family reunions, for a very reasonable price. Just call its office at (800) 668-1895.


Pacer Legends to Kick Off Holiday Weekend at Hoosier Park

The basketball world is buzzing about the Indiana Pacers right now. Sure, the first game of the Eastern Conference Finals Wednesday resulted in a disappointing overtime loss, but it's clear the defending champion Miami Heat realize they will have their hands full (for the second year in a row) with the scrappy squad from Hoosier country. Although, it should be noted that the Pacers have had many successful years. If you'd like to meet some legends from the franchise's distant and recent past, head over to Hoosier Park in Anderson tonight. See details below:

Ten of the Pacers’ more recognizable names from the past 40 years are slated to make a joint-appearance at Hoosier Park Racing & Casino on Friday, May 24 to kick off the start of Memorial Day weekend live racing. This group of past ABA and NBA Pacers will sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans starting at 7 p.m. in the Hoosier Park Terrace. The event is free and open to the public.

The Pacers’ legends scheduled to appear:

• Rik Smits (1988 – 2000, Center)
• Bobby ‘Slick’ Leonard (1968 – 1980, Head Coach)
• Mel Daniels (1968 – 1974, Center, NBA Hall of Fame Member)
• Derrick McKey (1993 – 2001, Forward/Center)
• Don Buse (1972 – 1977, Point Guard)
• Billy Keller (1969 – 1976, Guard)
• George McGinnis (1971 – 1975, Power Forward/Center)
• Bob Netolicky (1967 – 1976, Forward/Center)
• Bill Newton (1972 – 1974, Center)
• Darnell Hillman (1971 – 1976, Forward/Center)

On Saturday, May 25, Hoosier Park’s signature race – the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational – will welcome the top rated horses in North America for its 20th running. The 2013 installment will tout some of the best horses, trainers, and drivers in the sport. Lining up behind the gate will be the likes of North American Cup Winner, Up The Credit, Meadowlands Pace champion, A Rocknroll Dance, and 2012’s Dan Patch victor, Rockin Cam.

Several activities will complement the Dan Patch Invitational pace, including Indiana sire stakes action, property-wide dining specials, and special wagering opportunities. Guests can also take part in Xtreme hot air balloon and helicopter rides over the racetrack. To close out Saturday night’s live racing card, a free fireworks display starts at approximately 10:30 p.m. At the conclusion of the free fireworks display, a Celebrity Driver charity kayak race and the Hoosier Idol All-In grand finale singing competition begins.

Nate Silver Breaks Down March Madness

Your office may face a hit to productivity this week as staffers scramble to fill out March Madness brackets. Not here of course; we at the Chamber remain dutifully focused. For example, I'm writing this important blog … about college basketball.

Analyst/number cruncher Nate Silver gained a great deal of acclaim during the 2012 election by accurately predicting President Obama's return to the White House (although he also has a reputation for fantasy baseball prognosticating). So now he takes a crack at the 2013 NCAA tournament. Here's an excerpt, but read the entire piece for A LOT more detail:

Even before the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament bracket was announced on Sunday, there was plenty of discussion about how much parity there was in this year’s field. The chatter only increased after Louisville, the No. 1 overall seed, was placed in a brutally tough Midwest region that also includes Duke and Michigan State.

This condition is nothing new, however. Parity has been the rule for some time in the N.C.A.A. tournament.

Louisville is in fact the nominal favorite to win the tournament despite its tough draw, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast. Still, Louisville has only a 23 percent chance of doing so, just ahead of Indiana at 20 percent.

In 2012, the FiveThirtyEight formula listed Kentucky as the tournament favorite. That call looks prescient since the Wildcats went on to win. Still, the result involved as much luck as skill, since the forecast gave Kentucky just a 27 percent chance of winning, only modestly better than Louisville and Indiana this year.

Title IX Celebrates 40 Years of Equality

I spent the weekend playing with my daughter, not realizing that Saturday was the 40th anniversary of a law that impacts both of us. Had I known, we might have celebrated. Well, as much as a nearly six-month-old can celebrate anything, that is.
 
To honor the achievement of Title IX, I’d like to give a quick history lesson. The legislation was signed into law on June 23, 1972 by President Richard Nixon and says this: “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
 
That’s it. It’s such a simple sentence – such a basic idea – and yet it does so much. And it doesn’t just affect women, although that is who benefitted the most from the law in 1972 and in years since.

In a recent Indianapolis Star article, the bill’s author, former Indiana Congressman Birch Bayh said at the time he knew the legislation was just the right thing to do. He’d grown up surrounded by strong women and he recognized that they should have the same ability as he did to attend college and be employed.
 
Title IX applies to a wonderful variety of issues: access to higher education, career education, education for pregnant and parenting students, employment, learning environment, math and science, sexual harassment, standardized testing and technology. It is a vital piece of legislation for our higher education and workforce – opening up the playing field for women educators and innovators, business women and athletes.

And while Bayh hadn’t anticipated that the literal “playing field” would be opened up and affect high school and college athletics the way it has over the past 40 years (virtually changing the landscape of athletics across the nation), that is what most people associate with Title IX, typically without realizing the vast many other topics to which the law applies.

I’m sure I’ve never given this much thought to Title IX. For me, this was just what I was expected to do: get good grades and play sports (I played golf, tennis and basketball), apply for and get accepted at the college of my choice, and follow my desires to a career in journalism and writing. I’ve never before paused at any of those fundamental freedoms that I have enjoyed.

It’s not been until I had my own child that the importance of this law has truly dawned on me – to know that just 40 years ago many of our mothers were either not allowed or didn’t have the option of playing organized sports in high school because they were girls. That they could be turned away from the college or university of choice because they checked the box marked “Female.”

It is amazing how far we have come that just two generations apart have such starkly different opportunities.

So, cheers to a one-sentence, life- and society-changing piece of legislation written by an Indiana congressman 40 years ago. I think we will celebrate with some pureed pears.

NCAA Hoops: Shooting for Dollars

The Wall Street Journal has an intriguing piece today about the most monetarily valuable NCAA basketball programs (if they could be sold like a professional franchise). Surprisingly, Louisville tops the charts. Not surprisingly, Indiana is No. 3, and Purdue made the top 20 at No. 18.

Oh, and congrats to "that team from the SEC" for winning the championship last night.

While Kansas and Kentucky battle it out Monday night for the national championship, college basketball’s real No. 1 will be sitting back on the sideline, counting its considerable cash.

The Louisville men’s basketball team is far and away the most valuable program in the sport, according to a recent study. Despite not even being the most prestigious team in its own state—that would be Kentucky, which beat the Cardinals on Saturday for a spot in the national-title game—Louisville would be worth an estimated $211.5 million if it could be bought and sold like a professional franchise. Kansas ($146 million) is second, while Kentucky ($73.7 million) stands a distant 16th.
 
Louisville head coach Rick Pitino, right, shakes hands with Kentucky head coach John Calipari before the first half of Saturday’s Final Four game.

Ryan Brewer, an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus, calculated the intrinsic valuations of 100 top Division I programs, including all 74 major-conference ones. Among other factors, the study examined each program’s revenues and expenses and made cash-flow adjustments, risk assessments and growth projections for every school.

Louisville blew away the field in part because of the massive revenues it has been making at the recently built KFC Yum! Center. The Cardinals, who began playing in the 22,000-seat arena in the fall of 2010, reported $40.9 million in revenue in the last fiscal year, according to government data—nearly $12 million more than any other team.

But conference-wise, the Big Ten came out on top. The Big Ten’s 12 schools have an average value of $68.3 million, followed by the Atlantic Coast ($58.2 million) and Big 12 ($50.2 million). The Big East ($40.3 million) is weighed down by its smaller members, while the Pac-12 ($35.0 million) and Southeastern Conferences ($30.7 million) are well behind.

Hat tip to Chamber staffer Ashton Eller for passing along the article.

Ball St. Plays Key Role in Promoting Madness

Ball State’s Sports Link program and its students will play a vital production role in bringing NCAA March Madness to the masses. See info from a press release below. For more on Ball State’s Sports Link program, see my recent article in BizVoice.

College basketball and emerging media will sync this spring as members of Sports Link, an immersive learning program at Ball State University, take a leading role in producing one of the largest sporting events in the country – the 2011 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.

As many as 18 students, telecommunications instructor Chris Taylor and graduate assistant Steven Albritton of Carmel will serve as online producers and social analysts for NCAA March Madness on Demand (MMOD), produced by Turner Sports Interactive. The site is www.ncaa.com/mmod. A promo may be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mlOM3Z0p4Ok.

Ball State Provost Terry King pointed out that the NCAA project is the second national partnership in the last year for Sports Link. In 2010, the interdisciplinary student organization partnered with Fox College Sports to bring magazine shows and live coverage of Ball State sporting events to nearly 56 million homes in the nation’s top 25 television markets.

"Sports Link provides real-life problem solving opportunities where students synthesize and integrate traditional academic information," King said. "It offers students a transformative experience that delivers game-day excitement to audiences across the country. Students run the show. In addition to being on-air talent, they produce, write, record and edit the packages."

For the upcoming tournament, the Emmy-winning Sports Link crew will work exclusively with production teams from Turner Sports and CBS Sports, interacting with digital producers, television announcers, teams and fans. Content may be found at http://www.ncaa.com/cokezerosocialarena, Facebook (NCAA March Madness) and Twitter (@marchmadness).

Ball State Sports Link members will produce content on campus in a remodeled facility designed especially for the project. The students started preparation for the tournament in February as they researched teams, storylines, social media trends and content. They participated in two weeks of rehearsals and development time prior to the launch of MMOD on March 13. The tournament spans 23 days through the NCAA Championship Game on April 4.

In addition to the entire program’s involvement, Taylor and Albritton will serve as two of the tournament’s online hosts, while senior Alex Kartman of Fort Wayne and junior Ben Wagner of Yorktown will assist as overall and morning-drive time producers. Junior Kyle Binder of Carmel and sophomore Chris Renkel of West Lake, Ohio, will perform the same role as afternoon-drive time producers.

Butler’s Shining Moment Ends with Standing Ovation

No, David’s rock didn’t quite strike Goliath in the noggin. But what a run by a great Butler team, and the parallels to where Duke was when Coach Krzyzewski began are quite evident. This could be the first in a long line of Final Four efforts by the men from Hinkle. Many devoted fans packed into the Fieldhouse last night to view the game, and here’s an ESPN story that contains video of the crowd’s reaction to the last shot that almost shocked the basketball world.

Education Secretary Duncan Calls Foul on NCAA

While driving into work, I listened to ESPN’s "Mike & Mike in the Morning" show relay that U.S. Education Secretary (and former Harvard basketball star) Arne Duncan has proposed NCAA teams who don’t graduate 40% of their players should not be allowed to compete in the postseason. A New York Times blog explains:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan took another swing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association and top college basketball programs Wednesday, reiterating a call he made in January to ban from postseason play teams that fail to graduate at least 40 percent of their players.

If Duncan’s proposal were to be carried out, 12 teams in the N.C.A.A. men’s tournament would be barred from competing, including Kentucky, a No. 1 seed, which has a graduation rate of 31 percent, according to a study released earlier this week by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport at the University of Central Florida. Six institutions (Brigham Young, Marquette, Notre Dame, Utah State, Wake Forest and Wofford) achieved a 100 percent graduation rate.

“If a university can’t have two out of five of their student-athletes graduate, I don’t know why they’re rewarded with postseason play,” Duncan said in a telephone conference call. His remarks were nearly identical to ones he made in a speech in January at the N.C.A.A. convention in Atlanta, where he told a crowd of athletic directors and university presidents that leaders in college sports aren’t doing enough to graduate basketball players.

ESPN’s analysts agreed the concept was well-meaning, although the logistics of such legislation would end up becoming convoluted because so many factors play into graduation rates (e.g. transfers, players who go to the NBA early, etc.). Jay Bilas also offered that coaches should not be punished for kicking a student off the team who can’t handle the academic load, since most would agree that’s the correct thing to do. He also opined that these are more than just basketball teams, they are institutions of higher learning, and they are equipped to handle these matters themselves.

What do you think? Fair or foul?

Expansion Now “Front Burner” Issue for Big Ten Conference

How can I justify putting this post on our blog? Hmm, well it’s sort of education-related … and it’s definitely profit-related.

The Big Ten athletic conference is looking seriously at expanding to 12 teams. The last team to join was Penn State in 1990. Schools reported as top candidates to fill the current void include Rutgers, Syracuse, Missouri, Cincinnati and Louisville.

Brian Kelly’s boys in South Bend remain doubtful. The Chicago Tribune explains the rationale behind expansion:

Jim Delany never will be a contestant on "Top Chef," but the Big Ten commissioner frequently has used a cooking analogy when asked about the prospects of Big Ten expansion.

"A back-burner issue," he has called it.

Not anymore. According to a league official, the Big Ten will release a statement Tuesday saying the matter has moved to the front burner.

The first sign of change came from former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, who told Wisconsin’s athletic board on Friday that Delany "is going to take this year to really be more aggressive about it. I just think everybody feels [expansion] is the direction to go, coaches and administrators."

A league source on Monday cited a "growing groundswell" of support among athletic directors for expansion.

In 1990, the Big Ten became the Bigger 11 by adding Penn State. (The Nittany Lions had to wait until 1993 to vie for their first Rose Bowl.) In 1999, Notre Dame stiff-armed the league’s overtures, and that put the issue on ice.

Why is it being revisited now?

The biggest reason, as always, is the stuff that doesn’t grow on trees: money. If the league expands to 12 teams and two divisions — like the SEC, Big 12 and ACC — it would create a Big Ten title game that could be worth $5 million or more to the league. The Big Ten Network would love to televise it, and the conference has a 51 percent ownership stake in the network.

Personally, I must admit that I love the Big Ten Conference. So much so that even though I’m an Indiana man, I even root for Purdue against "outsiders." And I think the conference embodies the characteristics of many Midwesterners like myself — the competitiveness, the penchant for good sportsmanship, and the plight of being terrible at football.

So I have mixed feelings about this move (should it happen). The money would be nice, but I think mega conferences like the Big East can get so convoluted they lose their identity, so expansion should be treaded lightly. Your thoughts?