Beyond Golf — 23 March 2021 by Bob Sherwin
Final Four site: Movie Hoosiers gym?

It seems to me that the NCAA officials missed a great one-time-only opportunity to have a special Final Four. Why not hold championship weekend at the most famous diminutive gym in the country, the ‘Hoosiers’ movie gym in Knightstown, Ind.? Everything is in the Hoosier state anyway. Hinkle Fieldhouse, site of the championship game in the movie, is being used for some games.

Attendance doesn’t matter this year, since fans are so limited. Perfectly intimate and nostalgic. The court dimensions are the same but sideline width is a problem that needs to be addressed. Maybe you can add a couple temporary modern backboards and better lighting. There are high school gyms in the area for teams to practice.

You won’t need the thousands of hotel rooms, or hundreds of restaurants. Besides, it’s only about 40 miles from Indianapolis so virtually everyone can make the short commute, in caravans just like the movie. The facilities are severely limited but a whole bunch of double-wides can solve that. Maybe it’s impossible for CBS crew to equip the 100-year-old gym, but you’d think 21st Century technology can overcome that. We have videos from Mars, 150 million miles away.

Maybe this has been addressed and NCAA officials already dismissed it but what a scene it would be. Imagine Jim Nance and Bill Raftery in the tiny broadcast booth behind the benches. Or the ink-strained wretches, maybe forced to use typewriters or Western Union to file stories, wearing straw hats courtside.

It’s a reach back into a romantic time that could have been greatly anticipated and invite a much wider audience of non-basketball fans. It would have been the same kind of dreamy flare as what the MLB is doing this summer, playing a real game adjacent to the site of another movie, “Field of Dreams’ in Dyersville, Iowa.

Gene Hackman, nearly as old as the gym now, perhaps could be rounded up to do the pre-game analysis, all written down in his vest-pocket notebook. 

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Bob Sherwin

Bob grew up in Cleveland, an underdog city with perennial underdog teams, and that gave him an appreciation and an affinity for the grinders in golf, guys such as Rocco Mediate, Jhonattan Vegas and star-crossed John Daly. This is the 49th year for Bob as a sportswriter, the first 34 working for newspapers throughout the west, Tucson (Daily Star), San Francisco (Examiner) and Seattle (Times), and the past 15 years as a freelancer. He has covered just about every sport, including golf tournaments, Tucson Open, Bing Crosby/AT&T Pro-Am, the 1998 PGA Championship, the 2010 U.S. Senior Open, the 2010 U.S. Amateur the 2015 U.S. Open and the annual Champions Tour Boeing Classic. He also writes articles for golf magazines. For most of his 20 years at the Seattle Times his primary beat was the Mariners. He then picked up Washington men's basketball in the winter. He also was the beat writer for the Sonics, including 1996 when they played the Bulls for the NBA title. After a lifetime hacking on public courses, he finally gave in and joined a country club in 2011, the Members Club of Aldarra near Seattle. Despite (or perhaps because) of his 14 handicap, he won the 'Super Senior'' (65 and older) championship in 2017. He has a pair of aces – 37 years apart – and in 2009 came agonizingly close to his ultimate golf goal of scoring in the 70s when he finished with an even 80. He lives in Seattle, and spends part of his winters in Marco Island, Fla.

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