'Chasing Indiana's Game: The Hoosier Hardwood Project' Is A Journey Into Indiana's Rich Basketball Culture

'Chasing Indiana's Game: The Hoosier Hardwood Project' Is A Journey Into Indiana's Rich Basketball CultureBefore the game of basketball evolved into today's dynamic game with position-less players, deep threes from the logo and top ten dunks making the nightly sports highlight reel, The Hoosier State embraced the game in its purest form. The Hoosiers’ affinity for the game is deeply rooted, traced back to over 100 years of basketball legacy, and inspired by the state's rich high school basketball lineage. Authors Chris Smith and Michael E. Keating captured the state's fandom for high school basketball in a new book published by Indiana University Press "Chasing Indiana's Game: The Hoosier Hardwood Project."

After discovering an old photograph of his father's basketball team, Smith felt inspired to dig deep into his father's 1937 Versailles Basketball team photo. Smith then teamed up with Michael E. Keating, a native Hoosier and retired photojournalist, and embarked on a journey discovering Indiana's 125 years of high school basketball. “Chasing Indiana's Game” is a photo journal filled with photographs and essays collected from their 50,000 miles traveled across the state. It contains over 175 digital shots captured from visiting over 300 gyms uncovering untold stories about Hoosier basketball. The book is a visual tribute to the legacy, community and passion of basketball in Indiana.

Smith and Keating recount their experiences traveling thousands of miles and visiting numerous locations from the Little York Gym to the legendary Knightstown Hoosier Gym. The journey through the past returned to the present with the newly designed Field House in New Castle, known to Hoosiers as "a figurative place of worship." With the redevelopment of the new high school arenas, the Friday night basketball tradition lives on, continuing to provide that sense of community and bragging rights for the week.

Chris Smith and Michael Keating's latest project profiles the culture of hoops in Indiana.

Before these elaborate, goliath present-day arenas of worship were constructed, every town, village, and burg had their own school. No matter the enrollment number or rate, they always managed to assemble a basketball team. As a result, the high school gymnasium served as a point of connection and pride for communities across the state.

During their odyssey, Smith and Keating learned lessons in geography, history and origins of team mascots as well as the timeline of the beginning of school consolidation and the impact the General Motors factory had on the community and state. Upon its departure, communities across the state faced consolidation, leaving a town's basketball team and legacy a thing of the past. As a result, gyms that were once packed with fans of all ages were left to collect dust and remain in solace.

Keating and Smith’s basketball odyssey produced one certainty amid the socioeconomic factors that affect communities over the years and decades: "as the years go by one thing remains constant…that is the shared love of basketball,” Smith said. For the residents of Indiana, basketball became a social meeting point where families could spend time together. Through first-hand experience, Smith pointed out that "basketball in Indiana is much more than just a game. With every stop, it became obvious that the communities in our state take great pride in their gymnasiums and the tradition of Friday and Saturday night basketball. We were always welcomed with open arms and allowed to explore and document the buildings and people within them. And we were often led to our next destination by those very people. History and a sense of community live within the walls of these gymnasiums."

“Chasing Indiana's Game: The Hoosier Project” provides a closer look into the fandom of basketball among the residents of Indiana. Initially a visual concept, the project morphed into a much deeper look at the game and what it means to the people and communities that embrace it. After researching the history of these historic basketball teams throughout the state and conversing with community members, former athletes and fans of the game, the authors were led to new gym discoveries and untold stories that help define the deep roots of the game. This book enables basketball fans to learn about the deep history of basketball within Indiana and the history behind the pivotal role high school basketball played for athletes, families and community members in a state that had limited entertainment opportunities while helping to lessen barriers like race and social status, showing the true power of the game we all have come love and appreciate.



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