VIDEO: Ahead of March Madness in Indy, Young Speaks About the Importance of Basketball in Indiana
Click here or the image above to view Senator Young’s remarks.
“We are devoted to this sport because it brings us hope and brings us together,” – Sen. Todd Young.
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) spoke on the Senate Floor about the importance of basketball in Indiana, ahead of March Madness hosted in Indianapolis.
“So as the NCAA tournament tips off, and the games begin across our stadiums, fieldhouses and arenas – Indiana’s hardwood civic temples, as we like to think of them – I know it will be a reflection of our love for basketball, and an exhibition of our collaborative ability to host such a large event during such a difficult time.
But what will also be on display is the other reason it is right and proper that this event take place in Indiana: we are devoted to this sport because it brings us hope and brings us together, it instills the virtues necessary to preserve many of the other features that make our country so special. It really can help make America whole again,” said Senator Young.
Click here to view Senator Young’s full remarks.
Full remarks as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, I rise today to speak about a subject that is a point of pride for and a source of passion my constituents.
You visit Indiana and you are bound to see them:
A backboard hammered to an old barn.
Rows of asphalt courts.
A lone hoop in front of a corn field or in a clearing.
Steel poles standing in driveways.
Though basketball wasn’t technically invented in Indiana, Indiana is indeed its epicenter.
Even the game’s inventor, James Naismith once said, “Basketball really had its origin in Indiana, which remains the center of the sport.”
So it’s appropriate that this year’s NCAA tournament will be played in its entirety, in our state.
Now this is of course in part because planning and hosting 68 teams in the middle of a global pandemic presents unprecedented challenges – challenges that Hoosiers in and around Indianapolis are going to be able to navigate.
And they will be able to work with our world-class college campuses in order to host teams from around the country. It’s a great source of pride for us.
But it’s also fitting because this sport is so important to our state.
You see, it’s March Madness meets Hoosier Hysteria.
The gyms where we play basketball are historic sites; the men and women who’ve competed and coached back home are Indiana folk heroes – we know their names, they are part of our common language: The Big O, Catch, the General, Bird, Wooden.
Memorabilia, artifacts, and sites associated with them are preserved in museums and town halls. They are in school gyms. They are marked by bronze plaques and other ways to memorialize those who have preceded us. Streets and roads are named in their honor.
We can even identify legendary teams and major moments in our basketball history with just a few almost mythic words that are familiar to the ears of Hoosiers: the Franklin Wonder Five, Plump’s Last Shot, 8 Points in 9 Seconds, and yes, the infamous Chair Throw.
Even the color of the ball, orange of course, can be traced back to a Hoosier, Tony Hinkle, who thought it was a good idea.
So for Indiana, basketball is much more than just a pastime.
It’s a source of joy for our communities- source of joy for our communities and it brings the people in and across them together.
After all, it takes little more than a basket and a ball to play.
That’s why wherever you go in Indiana, and no matter the neighborhood – you might be visiting or passing by – be it affluent or one hit by hard times, in the country or in the city, you’re going to see basketball played. It almost doesn’t matter what time of year it is or what the weather is like, you are likely to see basketball if you hit the road for a few hours in Indiana at any given time of year. You are going to hear it discussed. The basketball court and the gymnasium bleachers are great levelers.
So I’m sharing this with you because there is a larger point at play.
Today, it increasingly seems that Americans have less and less in common with one another….that we are defining ourselves not as a diverse nation united by a common set of values with a shared past and a shared future, but we are instead sorting ourselves into tribes based on geography, or class, or even political affiliation.
And this has been accompanied by the hollowing out of many of our communities and a loss of faith in the public spaces and access to these public spaces and institutions that shape our national identity and bind this vast pluralistic and beautiful country together.
Now, these are dangerous trends; this separation, this tribalism, ones that we are going to have to work hard to turn back. There is only so much this body can do – I am under no illusions. Only so much government can do, to make America whole again.
That is why we should cherish and celebrate the institutions that do have the power to unite us. And as any Hoosier will tell you, basketball is one of them.
And even beyond this, as its history in Indiana shows, this shared ritual that brings us joy and brings us together also pushes us to be better – individually and collectively.
I think of the persistence of a teenager by the name of Steve Alford endlessly practicing free throws in his driveway in New Castle, even in the snow and rain.
The courage of Indiana University’s Bill Garrett, who fought segregation and broke the Big Ten color barrier.
The faith of Little Milan High, enrollment hardly 100, beating mighty Muncie Central, enrollment over 1,000, for the 1954 state high school championship.
The grace of successive generations of graduates at Crispus Attucks – now this is a school built to segregate black students in Indianapolis, but it then grew into an academic and athletic powerhouse, whose basketball program was a beacon in the civil rights movement and to this day remains a great source of pride, not just for Black Hoosiers but for all Hoosiers. It was also the first African American team to win a state championship in the nation.
The spirit of the tiny town of Medora, an underdog community, featured in a recent documentary. Who stood by their team while its players laced up work boots because they couldn’t afford basketball shoes, and then they set out with grit, and determination, and resolve to end a season losing streak.
So, these scenes from Indiana’s history, up to the present day like the game itself, unite people from different backgrounds and they foster pride in our places, especially struggling places.
They teach us to draw a line between competition and contempt, to keep perspective and to have the humility to remember that defeat is never permanent…and neither is victory.
They help us see and treasure what we have in common, and they show us the power of opportunity and empowerment.
Institutions like basketball can’t be taken for granted. They bring meaning and purpose to the lives of people and the places that we call home…that encourage our citizens to dream beyond limit…and I would say that they are what we need in this nation now.
So as the NCAA tournament tips off, and the games begin across our stadiums, fieldhouses and arenas – Indiana’s hardwood civic temples, as we like to think of them – I know it will be a reflection of our love for basketball, and an exhibition of our collaborative ability to host such a large event during such a difficult time.
But what will also be on display is the other reason it is right and proper that this event take place in Indiana: we are devoted to this sport because it brings us hope and brings us together, it instills the virtues necessary to preserve many of the other features that make our country so special. It really can help make America whole again.
Now and then we all need to be gently reminded I think of the importance of all those things. I can think of no better time or place for that than March in Indiana.
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