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Indiana bill would bring back Hooisers-style state tourney

Jonathan Wall
Prep Rally

Indiana high school basketball currently has a four-classification state tournament system in place, but if political officials have their way, that could all be coming to an end in the coming months.

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As the Indianapolis Star first reported, state officials are in the midst of trying to pass legislation that would scrap the four-class tournament, that's been around for more than 14 years, for the old one-class system that pitted small schools against some of the biggest in the state.

As you may recall, they actually did a movie about a small Indian school beating a state powerhouse in the championship game. Almost every sports fan has seen the movie Hoosiers, where tiny Milan managed to get past Muncie Central for the 1954 state championship.

Well it appears some officials within the state would like to see the one-class magic return in the near future. If passed, Senate Bill No. 84 would allow schools to "participate in an interscholastic athletics association only if the association does not conduct boys' or girls' interscholastic basketball games in which the teams are divided into classes."

While the one-class could bring some upset magic back to the state tournament, officials have said the other reason for getting rid of the current system would be to cut down on the travel costs of playing teams across the state, as well as the "opportunity for economic development" that could come along with the former system.

"In the single-class tournament, sectionals were done locally," Senato Jean Leising told the Indianapolis State. "You were within a half-hour for the sectional and an hour for the regional. Now you have teams driving all over the place and family and close friends watching the games. Let's bring back that local competition."

The nostalgia that comes with a one-class system, as well as the economic benefits, could be a huge draw for some schools. But the Indiana High School Athletic Association has already made it clear that most schools aren't on board with the Senate Bill.

The IHSAA issued a news release Wednesday that it opposed the change, citing a 2006 survey that indicated only 36 schools -- 10.6 percent -- favored the single-class format. The IHSAA has not received any requests from its membership to return to the one-class format, according to its release.

Whether those numbers have changed in the last five years is unclear, but based on the strong feelings from both sides, it's clear the one-class system won't be coming back without a fight from the IHSAA.

I understand the importance of bringing history back to a basketball-rich state, but in an age where there's such a huge talent, and money, gap between the small schools and the state powers, you have to wonder if the one-class makes sense in the long-run.

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