In letter to senator, Skiles weighs in on class basketball

Back in the one-class days, Scott Skiles helped lead Plymouth High School to the 1982 Indiana boys basketball state title. After a professional basketball career, Skiles is now the head coach of the NBA's Milwaukee Bucks.

But he says that state tournament success is still "one of the most significant events in my life."

Tuesday night at 7 p.m. at Plymouth High School, IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox and state senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) will hold a town hall meeting to gather opinions from the public about the one-class/multiclass state tournament debate, which is a polarizing issue.

Two of Skiles' former teammates (Todd Samuelson and Ron Sissel) will speak at Tuesday's meeting, but Skiles said he is unable to attend. Instead, Skiles sent a letter to Sen. Delph to share his thoughts. Here is a copy of that letter:

 

Greetings,

I regret that I cannot attend tonight's meeting.  I asked to be hooked up via speaker phone but I was told that wasn't feasible. I have wrestled for several days to explain the importance of one of the most significant events in my life, in a letter.

Like many, I was extremely disappointed in the decision many years ago to move to a multi class system in Indiana. I believe the time has come to correct this error. 

I am very fortunate that the game of basketball has taken me around the country and also around the world.  Before the mid 90's, it is impossible to tell you how many times people from all over the country would approach me to talk about Hoosier Hysteria.  Most people spoke with reverence and envy about our system and how great it must be to compete and possibly win when all teams are vying for one prize. Truly, the tournament was part of our state tradition, much like the Indy 500.  People still approach me about our specific game and what it meant to them. Sometimes, to my embarrassment, with tears in their eyes.

The question that must be asked is, "Why did we change, and who did it benefit?"  Unless there was a financial reason, the answer is obvious. So that smaller schools can find a way to feel success and put banners up.  On the surface that may seem like a valid argument.  I would argue the opposite.  I believe that type of thinking can cause kids to dream smaller.  No kids should be taught a self limiting belief system.  They should all believe that no matter where they come from, through commitment, great focus, and a strong work ethic anything is possible.  They should also be taught how to lose. With all the effort one puts in, there is a possibility that one may lose to someone superior.  That can be a powerful motivating factor for further improvement.

Anecdotally, before I moved to Plymouth, I lived on Koontz Lake.  I played on a clay driveway.  Hour after hour I played and dreamed. When it was about time to go in, my last dream was always the same.  I was hitting the shot to win the state championship.  Not the small school state championship.  I was always encouraged to dream big. If we restore the tournament to it's glorious past, I guarantee that there will be a child somewhere, in a small town, having that same dream. If that child is fortunate enough, like I was, to find teammates like I had, then something special may happen. When it does happen, even if it's rarely, it's more than worth it.  

As I said, I am still approached about our 1982 championship. Like some other title games, that one seems to have struck a chord with people. The underdog story in sports, business, and life is always special.  

No one has uttered the phrase "Hoosier Hysteria" to me in over a decade.  People from the outside looking in clearly aren't enamored anymore with Indiana high school basketball.  I believe we have lost something special that was part of the fabric of our great state. Let's bring it back!

Scott Skiles
Plymouth 1982 State Championship Team