I wouldn't know Sen. Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg) if she elbowed me in the face. But I do know she doesn't know a dead horse when she sees one.
This upon the news that she's sponsoring legislation -- again! -- to forbid school corporations from playing in the IHSAA if the IHSAA persists in continuing to divide high school basketball into four classes.
Yeesh. Can we not let this thing die, people?
Listen, the Blob bows to no one in its conviction that class hoops killed high school basketball, or at least that March phenomenon we used to call Hoosier Hysteria, in the state of Indiana. The game's hold on the psyche of an entire state died the instant the first ball was tossed up at the first class sectional game, and there is simply is no denying it.
That's why I've never used the term "Hoosier Hysteria" to describe any IHSAA tournament since 1998. It's a misnomer, and I try to avoid misnomers.
But it's been 14 years now, nearly long enough for an entire generation of Indiana kids to have grown up knowing nothing but class hoops. Dozens of communities around the state now have "Home of the Whatever Year Class 1A/2A/3A State Champions" signs on the outskirts of town. Whatever you think of what class hoops has done to the hold basketball has on this state in general, it's been an unqualified success for those individual communities whose kids would never have experienced a state championship without it.
And this is me talking. This is the guy who saw the glory days 25 or 30 years ago, when I had the great good fortune to work in the best high school hoops town in America -- Anderson, and don't even try to argue that one with me -- and spent my Friday nights trying to hear myself think in front of 8,000 people in the Wigwam.
Nothing like that will ever happen again in this state, basketball-wise. Even if you go back and do it over 14 years later.
The fact is, this isn't the world it was then, and it's never going to be again. There's too much else to do now on winter Friday nights, too many other entertainment options. Big Monday and Terrific Tuesday and Wonderful Wednesday on ESPN have forever muted Fantastic Friday, and that's the home truth of things.
We can still mourn for what's been lost, of course. The flip side of all those communities with their state champions side on edge of town is that what used to matter to the state as a whole only matters to those individual communities now. What used to be a communal experience -- you pulled for your school in the sectional against all your local rivals, then pulled for your representative as it moved on to the regional and semistate -- is now contained only within the four walls of your own school.
That's why it isn't Hoosier Hysteria anymore. It's only Garrett Hysteria or Kendallville Hysteria or Ossian Hysteria.
Which is all that matters, if you live in those places. It's only the conceit of those of us who aren't involved that single-class hoops was better because, even though you got beat 95-30 in the first game of the sectional, you got to be part of the grand pageant.
If I'm a kid on the losing end of that, my response would be this: "Whoop-de-doo. Give me a realistic shot at a 1A state title any day -- and if a year later some geezer in Fort Wayne can't remember who won the 1A title, well, what do I care? I'll remember."
And that's the point the Lege should keep in mind before sticking its nose where it doesn't belong. Let the kids play the tournament they want to play in, because, after all, it's their tournament, not ours.
No geezers apply.