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In Rural Indiana Town, Even Basketball Suffers ... e-mailing 11-29-09

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  • Bob Friend
    E-Mail ThisThe following link will take you to a great New York Times story: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/28/sports/28medora.html?_r=1&emc=eta1 . ... COMMENT
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 30, 2009
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      E-Mail This
      The following link will take you to a great New York Times story:
       
       

      COMMENT  BY  BOB  FRIEND
      RE  N.Y.  TIMES  STORY  BY  JOHN  BRANCH:
       
      Throughout most of the 1980s and into the '90s, I traveled a lot on business, including the part of Southern Indiana described in this article.  I may even have sold my company's signs to a few enterprises in Medora -- I know I've been through the town.  While I cannot now visualize exactly what it looked like, I can say with certainty it would have been reminiscent of so many others.
       
      I went to school in similarly tiny (though not quite so) Waterloo, Indiana; my 1965 class graduated 44 kids.  Unlike the students at Medora today, there could not have been more than a handful of boys at my school who would not have given just about anything to be on our varsity basketball team, the Wildcats.  The highest level I achieved was starting on the junior varsity (called the "B-Team" back then) -- as a junior; as the season wore on, I spent more and more time on the bench after the coach decided to give more playing time to younger players who'd be around longer.  I quickly concluded I had no chance of making the varsity the following year, and playing on the junior varsity as a senior -- even if I'd be allowed to do so -- seemed pointless.  (In defense of my playing abilities, albeit less than stellar, I might have had a better chance of making the varsity if I'd been a few years older or younger; by most accounts, the athletes of the Class of '65 comprised the most talented group ever to emerge from Waterloo's hallowed halls.)
       
      At any rate, not being on the team my senior year did not diminish my enthusiasm for the game itself -- I was among the loudest members of the white-shirted cheer block the night we beat rival Garrett (with its two seven-footers) in a slow-down game.  While it's heartening to read that fans in lowly Medora still turn out to yell for their Hornets, I have to wonder how long the team -- or the school (or even the town itself, for that matter) -- will be able to continue.
       
      Today, while Waterloo's economic picture is nowhere near as dire as Medora's, the downtown business district is a far cry from what it was 50 years ago, when my family first moved there from our rural home, where I'd attended a two-room country schoolhouse.  Waterloo High School's final class graduated in 1967; after that, as a result of consolidation, kids started attending a much larger, more modern school located a few miles outside of town.  Maybe I am just overly sentimental, but I am not convinced the longtime trend toward "big-box" schools has truly been for the better.  Most of us who graduated from "podunk" places like Waterloo had no trouble holding our own in college, competing with students from much larger schools.  Also, there were more opportunities for kids to play such sports as basketball; my brother Jim, a member of Waterloo's last class (who, by the way, unlike his older brother actually made the varsity) wrote these words as a comment on the Medora H.S. article:
       
      "It was definitely more fun when every town had a high school. 
      The post-consolidation schools of the past 40 years killed the dreams
      of thousands of girls and boys to achieve small-town athletic success.
      Oh, the elite athletes thrive, but marginally talented kids that could have played
      on their hometown teams can't compete with an entire region's kids at the super-schools. 
      Oh well, it's social Darwinism I reckon..."
       
      I could not have said it better myself.
       
                     --BOB  FRIEND
       
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