Where is Norman Dale when you need him? or “An Indiana town so poor, even basketball is dying”

Us Hoosiers love Hoosiers.  Yeah, its a nostalgia trip and romanticizes some things but its a great movie–voted 4th best sports movie of all time–about the importance of basketball and community in small town Indiana during the 1950s.  Someday soon I want to write a critique of the movie, but what’s not to love about a film where your mom appears multiple times in it? (My mom was an extra and traveled all over central Indiana for the 1985-86 filming.)

Ruth Holladay shared this on her blog the other day from the New York Times, “In Rural Indiana Town, Even Basketball Suffers.

Where is Bobby Plump or Norman Dale when you need them?

If you think Indianapolis or Gary has problems, wait to you here about tiny Medora, Indiana.

From the New York Times article:

That is the unexpected predicament confronting [Coach] Young, the kind of Indiana boy who grew up sleeping with a basketball. Indiana, after all, is the home of “Hoosiers,” the 1986 movie loosely based on the small-town 1954 Milan High team that beat all the bigger schools to win the state championship. Medora, about 65 miles west of Milan, could be this generation’s anti-Hoosiers.

“It used to be such a big deal,” said Maria Powell, born and raised in Medora and now the mother of one of the basketball players. She recalled postgame parties with classmates at a pizza place called The Covered Bridge — long since closed — when she was in high school. “Basketball was just what you lived for.”

Medora, with 16 members in the senior class, is the fifth-smallest public high school in Indiana. It is slowly shrinking, like the town of about 500 itself. Two of three large feed mills are gone. An automotive plastics factory employed several hundred until it closed in 1988. A brick plant on the edge of town died in 1992.

“That’s when, basically, Medora started falling apart,” said Penny England, a lifelong resident and the mother of one of the boys on the team.

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone who has spent time in rural or small time Indiana.    There is a major economic and cultural crisis going on.   Rather its Hoosiers or John Mellencamp, if things don’t get turned around, there might not be much more to celebrate about our once great small towns.


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