If you’re a basketball fan and you’re from the state of Indiana you’ve probably heard of the sports film Hoosiers.
Hoosiers was produced in 1986. Written by Angelo Pizzo the movie takes us back to the simpler days of Indiana High School Basketball. The story centers on the small town of Hickory and their High Sschool basketball team that does the improbable by winning the state basketball championship. Some 32 years later, controversy has ?? high school basketball
This film was based on the real life Milan High School that won the Indiana state championship in 1954. Milan is the smallest school ever to win a state championship prior to class play. Tiny Milan with an enrollment of 161 students defeated the much Larger Muncie Central. The game has achieved cult status in Indiana and is referred to as “The Miracle of Milan.”
The opening minutes of the movie find Norman Dale taking a drive through Indiana on his way to his new job as head coach of the Huskers. Norman was hired by his longtime friend Cletus Summers, who he hasn’t seen in 20 years. Cletus knows about Dale’s dark past but hires him despite of it. He hopes Norman will have an opportunity to wipe his slate clean at Hickory.
Indiana has an incredibly rich and storied basketball tradition. Hoosier Hysteria as it affectionately known begins at a very young age. It takes root and grows at every basketball level. Old and young alike share an infectious passion for the sport. We clearly see this in the movie too. Hickory folk are passionate about the game they love and quickly have a face to face meeting with their newly hired coach. They want to know all about him.
This movie is close to my heart, because it involves the type of basketball culture I grew up with. It is the type of basketball many people have known for generations. Small town hHigh school basketball. But that landscape is changing. In many places and situations basketball is not what it used to be. It is no longer played within the confines of your public high school. It has become dominated by AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) and travel teams. These teams play so frequently that often times young kids are forced to choose between little exposure at high school, or to try and prepare for basketball beyond high school in AAU.
This debate has stirred much controversy about the role and purpose of high school basketball.
Many would argue that the pros for staying and being within high school basketball outweigh the cons. But as the landscape changes so does recruiting. This debate is not as easy or as straight forward as it may seem.
Participating in high school basketball does afford you many good opportunities. In many cases it is a much more disciplined style of basketball. This style allows you to get more accustomed to system and team play, and also can prepare you for what you will see at the next level.
High school basketball also allows you to play within the pride of a community. For many communities their high school basketball team means a lot. It is a source of entertainment Friday nights, and it provides a rallying point for the people that care. Being a part of that culture in atmosphere is second to none. A third key pro of high school basketball is its accessibility. Often times AAU basketball can get expensive from the traveling to hotel stays. Playing in high school basketball often is a more cost effective option for young kids and families.
All of these pros don’t mean that AAU has no worth. It’s true, AAU is designed to bring exposure. Exposure is huge. For any kid wanting to play at the next level, they need to get their name out there. AAU basketball allows you to do that. A second pro is that you are able to hone your craft against similar minded players. Training against players that want to play at the next level is always more beneficial than playing with guys that have no desire to do so. And a third pro, is the season. Some say it’s a con but there is a plus side to playing year round. More playing time equals more improvement.
Overall there is no right or wrong answer with what route you should take with your child.
The days of basketball being exclusively like Hoosiers is done, but that doesn’t mean for all those small town communities out there that it isn’t still relevant and thriving.