Shooting at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The police are investigating a shooting at the Coke Lot next to the IMS.

Speedway Police confirmed one person was shot and killed shortly after 2 Saturday morning.

Police were called to Lot 1-C after people reported shots being fired. When they arrived, they found a man shot to death.

So that’s a disturbing kick off to race weekend.

Update The Indy Star has identified the shooting victim as a 25 year old Kokomo man by the name of Max Levine.

Rosenberg: I once loved a city that bled blue and gold. Now I love a city that simply bleeds.

Gabriel Rosenberg has a fairly brutal opinion piece in the Indianapolis Star entitled “Learning to Hate the Pacers, a Team I Have Long Loved.” Reading the title, I thought it was going to be some superficial rant complaining about the Pacers’ change in fortunes and level of performance toward the end of the season.

Nope. He clearly loves the Pacers and Indianapolis, but he’s pissed about the decision to give the Simon family $160 million to support the Pacers and Banker’s Fieldhouse at the same time the roads are crumbling and the police seemingly don’t have the resources they need to keep order.

He says:

The latest handout is a craven abdication of responsibility by the city’s leaders. The Simons squeeze the life from the city. But the mayor and the council fear the immediate political wrath of fans. Why pay a grievous political price now when the human cost can be amortized by decades of crumbling infrastructure, winnowing public services, violent crimes and shuttered schools?
. . .
I rage at something I love. I try to reject something that is a part of me and always will be. I can’t really ever walk away from the Pacers, but my stomach is knotted in anger and sorrow when I think of them. I’m saying things I don’t really believe. But I must learn to believe them. I hope Paul George misses his next 160 shots. I hope the Hawks outscore the Pacers by 160 points. I hope they lose the next 160 games. How else will I count the 160 million lacerations the Simons leave on the body of the city?

I once loved a city that bled blue and gold. Now I love a city that simply bleeds.

Travel Sports

Continuing on my kids’ sports theme from yesterday, I’m curious what folks think about travel sports. When I was a kid growing up in Richmond, it seems this mostly wasn’t a thing. There were some recreational leagues through the YMCA and various local organizations in the younger years, then most of the sports went through the junior high schools that played the other ones in the city during the junior high years, and, then the high school athletic teams traveled around to other high schools.

Now, with soccer at least, there are travel teams that seem to start at 9 or 10 years old. They travel around to other parts of the state and even do tournaments in Illinois and Ohio, I think. If you’re grooming your kid to be an elite athlete, I guess I can see this. Expanding the pool of competitors allows the best to play the best. But beyond that, I think I’m missing the point. My goal with my kids and their athletics is mostly to get them exercising, developing coordination and motor skills, learning some things about teamwork and competition, getting to spend some time with them (as a coach), and – if there is time left over – have a little fun.

The other kids in town provide plenty of competition to accomplish those goals. Still, plenty of people I know and respect, both friends and family, are getting their kids into the travel leagues. I have trouble seeing how travel versus local contributes anything additional beyond expense and time commitments.

Anyone else spent much time thinking about this sort of thing?

Hoosiers over Spartans 72 – 68

Austan Kas, writing for the Crimson Quarry has a blog post entitled Road warriors: Indiana rallies past Michigan State. For those of you unfamiliar with the site, the Crimson Quarry is a great blog for following IU sports.

This most recent post was on the subject of Indiana’s first basketball win at Michigan State in 22 years. If that drought were a person, it would’ve been legally drunk after last night’s game. It was a near thing and hard to watch at the end. I don’t know if I can blame last night’s officiating on the NCAA’s worst referee, TV Ted Valentine. But, he was there, so I will. The guy running the Breslin Center’s game clock became mysteriously unable to start the clock when MSU was down by a couple of points with 13 seconds to go. After a vigorous monitor review, the officiating crew decided it’s not a foul when a MSU player punches Cody Zeller in the nuts. However, by contrast, it is a three-point shooting foul when Will Sheehey stands still and straight up while an MSU player shoots.

That grousing out of the way, the Hoosiers pulled off a narrow win on the strength of some strong play from Zeller, Watford, Hulls, and, of course, Oladipo. My favorite Oladipo play last night was when he was inbounding the ball under the basket. An MSU player was guarding an IU player with his back turned to Oladipo. Oladipo threw the ball off the MSU guy’s back, stepped in bounds, grabbed the ball, and laid it in. Meanwhile, Dick Vitale and Magic Johnson were too busy gabbing about something or other to even discuss the play at first.

So, the players and coaches – IU and Michigan State alike were high quality. The officiating, clock running, and commentating were all horrible. And IU gets a road win over the 4th ranked team in the country. In doing so, it solidified its hold on the Big Ten, its place at #1, and continues to make a case for itself as a 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. It still has big games against Ohio State and Michigan left on its schedule, then the Big Ten tournament; so there is a lot of tough basketball to come. But, after some time in the wilderness, it’s great to see the Hoosiers back among the top teams in the country.

Coaching a Peewee Football Team to Victory Won’t Make Your Dad Love You More

Ken Belson, writing for the New York Times, brings us an infuriating story entitled Pee Wee Football Game With Concussions Brings Penalties for Adults.

It was a peewee football game in central Massachusetts where five prepubescent kids got concussions in the course of a single game. Two got hit so hard on the first play that they were pulled from the field. These are kids as young as 10 years old and five of them were diagnosed with concussions. The winning coach blamed the losing coach for not coming to him and forfeiting during the course of a game.

I’m not one for treating kids as delicate flowers, but when the coaches allow the game to proceed in a way that five kids get concussions in a 52 – 0 blowout, the coaches are no longer teaching the kids anything of value. I don’t know if their dads didn’t love them enough or what; but at that point, the coaches are compensating for some deficiency in their own lives.

It’s not the Super Bowl. You’re out there to encourage the kids to get some exercise, learn the value of team work, learn to compete, develop your motor skills. Maybe the coaches would say this incident falls under the category of “learning to compete” but based on the score and the number of injuries, it wasn’t a competition, it was just one group of kids under the supervision of adults delivering a beating to another group of kids directed to receive the beating by another group of adults.

And now five of the kids have sustained head injuries that have at least the potential of affecting them negatively for the rest of their lives. Hell of a way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

IHSAA: The Lobotomy Worked; Hoosier Hysteria is Cured!

Once Indiana had the best high school basketball tournament in the world. Now, we no longer do. We gave it away so that more people could get trophies and more athletic directors could feel good about themselves. The people who gave it away and feel good about themselves studied themselves and concluded that they are A-OK.

Current students who were, at oldest, three years old when the single-class basketball format was abandoned don’t know anything about it. They and the administrators of their schools voted heavily in favor of the current class-based system. On the other side, a self-selecting group of people who showed up at hearings on the issue voted overwhelmingly in favor of a return to the single class system. I don’t know whether there has been reliable polling of the state as a whole. Measuring attendance, it is abundantly clear that spectators like the current system much less than the old one.

All I know is that Indiana once had something special; something transcendent and state-defining. Now we don’t. Maybe it’s better for the boys playing basketball to have their end-of-year tournament normalized with the other sports and the other states rather than doing something a little different and exciting. It’s not especially good for a state that used to have a special passion for the sport. We’ve been lobotomized and our Hoosier Hysteria is cured.

Kyle Stokes has more.

The One True Basketball Tournament

Maureen Hayden, writing for CNHI, has an article on the IHSAA conducting hearings on a return to the unified high school basketball tournament instead of the multiple class abomination it adopted in 1998. Attendance is in the toilet, but that’s not why the IHSAA is holding hearings. Rather, it got enough static from Indiana legislators that it’s holding hearings — probably just hoping to show enough effort to get the folks at the State House to leave them alone.

Small schools appear to like the class system – especially small schools that have been winning under the system. My guess is that, taken on a one-school, one-vote basis (as opposed to a one-student, one-vote basis), the preference is for class basketball. It’s easier for small schools to win when they only play each other.

And, possibly it’s easier for me to win cases if I only had to compete against other three-lawyer firms. But, as it turns out, the real world doesn’t work that way. I guess we could just give everyone a trophy and skip the basketball.

(This is just a preview of my greatest hits when, one day, I reach my aspiration of becoming Grumpy Old Man Masson; sitting on the front porch holding forth on the Good Old Days, drinking from a jug with a thumb hook and scaring the neighborhood kids.)

Hoosiers Beat Boilermakers on Senior Night

Just so you know where I’m coming from, I was raised in a house where we had a hat on display that read, “The Lord is my shepherd, but Bobby Knight is my coach.”

What a turn around for IU’s five seniors: Verdell Jones, Tom Pritchard, Matt Roth, Daniel Moore, and Kory Barnett. They capped off a regular season by sweeping Purdue for the first time since 2005 – 2006, and made up for three years of futility. After three losing seasons, they finished this regular one at 24-7; beating teams ranked #1, #2, and #5 along the way.

Some commenter mentioned that the time in the wilderness really makes Hoosier fans appreciate being relevant again. Probably true. And, now it’s time for the Big 10 tournament – which could justifiably be its own region of an NCAA bracket all by itself. Then, at long last, back to the NCAA tournament itself. Glad to have some excitement in March again.

Hoosiers Beat #2 Ohio State

Teams who end up with the #3 college basketball ranking will probably want to avoid Bloomington this season. The Hoosiers seem to be working on a straight. They defeated #1 Kentucky and, last night, #2 Ohio State.

Indiana beat OSU 74 – 70, suggesting that win over Kentucky wasn’t a fluke. After years in the wilderness, IU basketball seems to be back, at least a year earlier than predicted.

SB 84 – Restoring the One True Basketball Tournament

Sen. Leising has introduced SB 84, designed to end the abomination of class basketball in Indiana.

It provides that a school corporation may participate in an interscholastic athletics association only if the association does not conduct boys’ or girls’ interscholastic basketball games in which the teams are divided into classes

I think the ship has probably irrevocably sailed on this one, but I appreciate the sentiment.