Daric Clemens is a senior journalism news major and is a columnist for The Daily News. His views do not necessarily agree with those of the newspaper.
It’s the best time of the year. Basketball season is here. Sure, the NBA is great, and college basketball continuously calls for unbelievable upsets, but in the Hoosier State, high school basketball is more than just another sport.
Throughout history, people have referred to the madness as “Hoosier Hysteria,” describing the excitement and love Indiana has for basketball, and it completely lives up to the hype.
Indiana schools hold nine spots in the top 10 high school gymnasiums in the United States for total seating capacity, according to WikiVisually. A different state doesn’t even reach the top five, as Texas sits at the sixth spot as the lone outsider.
I was fortunate enough to experience the atmosphere of four of the top-five biggest high school gyms in the country in Seymour (8,228), New Castle (7,829), Marion (7,560) and Richmond (7,786), where I attended high school and played basketball.
All through my experience, I witnessed multiple nearly-sold-out crowds in games that weren’t even played during tournament time. These were just your regular season games that most likely didn’t mean much at the end of things, but when there was basketball being played under the bright lights, Indiana residents came out to support.
However, when it’s postseason time, everything is different. As the stakes rise, so does the tension in the gymnasiums, and the loud roars are heard throughout the gym after every single play from start to finish. The environments that come with these games in Indiana is something everyone needs to encounter in their life.
I had the chance to be involved with one of these instances. In the 2014-15 boys’ basketball season, my school made it to the Semi-State game. As we walked onto the Seymour court, it looked as if every seat was taken by an eager fan. It was hard to even hear yourself think as chants filled the air, which left myself with a feeling of satisfaction but also a sense of nervousness in my gut. It was an opportunity that I will remember forever.
It gets taken to the next level as you reach the State Championship. Each year, there are four games played in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers, for each class State Championship game. In 2018-19, 22,476 people in total attended the high school State Championship’s venue throughout the day, not all at once, to see the final teams go head-to-head, according to IndyStar’s Kyle Neddenriep.
Why is basketball so important in Indiana? Well, because the creator of the sport, James Naismith, let it be known in 1925 that “basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport,” as he sat in at a high school championship game that he described as having about 15,000 people packed in, and the momentum continued on through history until present time.
Indiana isn’t prestigious for much besides mainly its farmland and the Indianapolis 500, but when it comes to hoops in Indiana, it just means more.