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Friday July 25, 2014
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The New Hoosiers

 

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The reasons behind Medora's resistance to consolidate are summed up in a line spoken by one of the townspeople: "I go through all these small towns every day. In the past you could go through there when people lived there and the school was there, and you know they was clean little towns. The people there was happy. But you don't see that now. You just don't see it."

So Medora rallies behind their basketball team with renewed hope each game in the possibility that the young men who represent them can taste victory for a brief moment in time. These are the new Hoosiers. Unlike the town of Milan 65 miles to their east, whose team won a series of victories against larger schools to secure the state title in 1954 and later inspire a hit film, these Hoosiers seek only one single victory, almost as though to write their own elegy to the past and to justify their fight to remain a community in the tradition of small-town America.

Aside from exposing the detrimental effects that globalization can have on individual lives, Cohn and Rothbart's film raises interesting questions about the purpose of organized sports in an educational setting. It is certainly important for a school to be capable of fielding a varsity team with players that fall within the proper age range. But when these smaller schools consolidate, many students forfeit opportunities for participation in what invariably becomes a more competitive athletic environment. In the absence of consolidation, the number of boys and girls playing ball in rural Indiana would be greater, and more students would be getting exercise and experiencing the value of competition and teamwork in the region's most popular extracurricular activity.

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