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Opening Arguments

Mixed message

Juxtaposition of the day.

First up, right to work:

Democrats were hoping the Right-to-work bill would go to a referendum vote. That would mean Indiana voters could vote for or against it in the next election. But Wednesday State Representatives Bob Morris and Win Moses say the bill cannot go to a referendum vote. That's because it would be unconstitutional. In the Indiana state constitution it says we cannot have a statewide referendum on something that doesn't deal with the constitution itself.

Then, class basketball:

Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel dropped a portion of a bill Wednesday that included a return to Indiana’s single-class high school basketball tournament after reaching an agreement with Indiana High School Athletic Association commissioner Bobby Cox to invoke public input on the topic.

Delph, the bill sponsor, said he’s taking “a step of faith” that the IHSAA will take a serious look at the current system, which he believes “has failed miserably.”

Granted, this isn't exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. A referendum is legally binding, but you can "invoke public input" all day long without actually doing what the public wants. I just think it's interesting. I'm not a big fan of using referendums in a representative democracy, and it's pretty clear that the call for one on right-to-work is just a cheap political stunt. But if we had to pick just one issue for public input, isn't right-to-work just a tad more serious than class basketball?

And speaking of class basketball: Why not try out a compromise? Keep the four-class system, but then have a super tournament of those four winners to come up with the overall winner. That can be done withour great disruption of what we're doing now, so it could be easily dropped in a couple of years if it turns out not to be a good idea.

UPDATE: Whoops! Good thing I'm not the sports editor. A colleague who works in sports informs me that they did try a "super tourney" in the first two years of four-class basketball, in 1998 and 1999:

When the move to class sports was approved in 1996 the IHSAA board was the group that made the move. A referendum of principals at each of the member schools voted in favor of the change, which was billed as a two-year experiment at the time.

Unfortunately, guidelines were not set as to what would deem this experiment a failure. Tournament attendance in 1998 dropped dramatically. The IHSAA lost over $600,000 in revenue int hat first season alone. The Tournament of Champions, a two- year pairing of the four state champions in each class, was set up for failure from the beginning by being under-promoted and planned during the week of spring break. The Class 4A champion (Pike in 1998 and North Central in 1999) won each time.

What people forget is that both events produced some pretty good basketball. Class A champion Tecumseh pushed North Central in the semifinals before falling 69-64, and Class 2A Westview nearly pulled off the upset in the championship game, falling 67-63 in 1999. Pike nearly fell to Cathedral in the 1998 semifinals, while Lafayette Central Catholic had a memorable 113-106 double overtime shootout with Alexandria in 1998.

Still, that was washed away, and since 1999 there has not been a true state champion. The state that once had a movie produced about its love for high school basketball traded in history and tradition for telling some they aren't good enough because their schools are smaller.