The movie Hoosiers is one of the best sports movies ever made. In my book BoomtownUSA, I wrote about how the town that achieves real teamwork within its various sectors is the one that reaps real success. The movie portrays this concept perfectly.
The movie was based upon the high school basketball team from Milan, Indiana (population 1,816) which beats a big-city team in the Indiana State Finals when there was only one class of teams. Hollywood changed the name of the team to the Hickory Huskers, telling the story of how the team struggles early in the season because its players are selfish and uncommitted. When the coach demands selflessness and commitment—and dares them to believe in themselves and have a great vision—the boys become an unstoppable winning team. The result—a state championship, is still treasured in basketball crazy Indiana.
The Huskers’ home court in the movie was the Hoosier Gym in Knightstown. I was thrilled to be giving a talk in the gym, getting a chance to tour it prior to my talk. It was built in 1922 and today is a wonderful tourist attraction for the town.
Knightstown, IN (population 2,148) is holding the 20th anniversary of Hoosiers June 3 to 11, 2006. They’ve invited back Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper, stars from the film for the festivities.
Nearby New Castle, hometown of Kent Benson and Steve Alford, is the site of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. The town of 17,780 has the largest high school gymnasium in the country, which seats 11,000. In fact, seven of the top 10 largest high school gyms are located in Indiana.
High school sports are wonderful unifier in most towns, but what if we put as much effort into creating new jobs and opportunities in our towns as we spend in supporting our high school teams?