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Basketball expert Ron Newlin explains why Hoosiers love high school hoops

The traditions of Indiana high school basketball

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Ahead of one of the biggest sports days of the year in Indiana, the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s boys basketball championships, Ron Newlin stopped by “Daybreak” on Friday to talk about Hoosiers’ love of the game.

Newlin is the former executive director of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. He’s written the book “Legacy and Legend: The History and Mythology of Basketball in Indiana.” Released in November, the book explores the history of basketball in the Hoosier state and how it became so large.

“Basketball in Indiana dates back to the first decade of the 20th century when spectator sports were first taking off all over the country,” Newlin said.

Indiana, at that time, was predominantly rural state, boasting around 1,000 small high schools, each with enough boys to form a basketball team. Almost immediately, the state initiated a massive statewide tournament featuring 800 teams competing for a singular state championship. The tournament garnered immense popularity, prompting schools to construct gyms with seating capacities of up to 7,000 spectators.

This led to basketball becoming very important a lot earlier than in many other places in the country.

“I do think it had to do with the fact that as technology and communications and transportation was making spectator sports possible everywhere,” Newlin said.