Sign condemning class basketball heads to HOFJuly 1, 2019
By HENDRIX MAGLEY
If you know Dave Bromm, you know his feelings toward the class basketball system.
Even if you don’t know Bromm, it’s pretty likely you’ve seen the sign perched alongside Newton Street in downtown Jasper that proclaims a simple message that’s been heard loud and clear throughout Dubois County — “Class Basketball is Wrong.”
In case you haven’t noticed, however, the sign is no longer visible at Bromm’s CPA office on the corner of Fifth and Newton.
This is because it’s currently en route to a new destination. It has been shipped to New Castle where it will be displayed in the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame.
“Chris May (the hall of fame’s executive director) called me up after seeing an article (by Jason Recker) on The Herald’s website in October of 2017, and he asked me what I was going to do with the sign,” Bromm recalls. “After awhile, I finally decided the sign belongs in the hall of fame, and if they want it, I’ll give it to them. That’s the final resting place where the sign should be.”
That discussion between May and Bromm took place in November 2018, and finally on June 10 of this year, May and a few other hall of fame representatives, including Sam Alford, stopped by to pick up the sign before heading down the road to Huntingburg for the annual “Legends” gathering.
It’s been more than 20 years since the Indiana High School Athletic Association mandated the switch from the single-class system, affectionately referred to by native Hoosiers as “Hoosier Hysteria,” to the multiple-class structure that has been in use since the 1997-98 school year.
The IHSAA decision “was met with a lot of pushback and a lot of concern because it was breaking the rich tradition that had made Indiana special,” Phil Gardner, president of the IHSAA board of directors, told The Herald in 2018. “It had been that way for so many years, so that change was drastic. But basically what it came down to was small schools having more of an opportunity to get [to the championship].”
When the subject of single-class basketball in Indiana is brought up, the first team that comes to everyone’s mind is the 1954 Milan High School team that played the role of David, as it defeated the much larger Goliath, Muncie Central, 32-30 in the state championship game. The fictional Hickory Huskers in the 1986 film “Hoosiers” were based on that Milan team.
And Bromm’s sign is a nod to that legacy and that once-in-a-lifetime shot at immortality.
The version of the sign heading to New Castle is the third one that has ever been made. It’s painted with white letters on a wooden board and, just like the first two, it was painted by Bromm’s wife, Dana.
Originally, the first sign was painted on metal with the word “wrong” purposely made to look wretched. It was placed outside of Bromm’s office — then located on the corner of Fourth and Newton streets — the day after the final state game in 1997. That sign was stolen and to this day has never been located. Bromm has an idea where the sign may be located, but has never been able to confirm it.
The next version of the sign was blue letters painted on a wooden board. This sign was also stolen, which forced Bromm to file a police report. While it was later located, it eventually ended up being destroyed, which led him to make the sign that is now heading to the hall of fame.
While Bromm isn’t aware of when exactly the display will be set up with his legendary sign, he’s excited to see how it turns out. In fact, it will be his first visit to the venue.
“He says they have a lot of memorabilia up there. I’ve never been there before, but people tell me it’s amazing,” Bromm said. “They were wanting a piece of ‘Hoosier Hysteria,’ as [May] described it. I thought — what the heck, who am I to deny giving that to them?”
Now that the sign is gone from Jasper, what’s next? Bromm says he’s already received plenty of contact from people wanting to know the exact answer to that question.
“Oh my gosh, I’ve probably already had at least 50 people ask me to put up another sign,” Bromm said.
So what’s the plan?
“I’m just going to leave it up in the air for right now,” Bromm said with a laugh. “Maybe I’ll just make a sign that says ‘You need to go to New Castle if you want to view the sign’ or something like that.”
While it’s still unknown whether Bromm will replace the sign with another sign or perhaps a mural or painting of some sort, one thing that will always remain the same is his disdain for the class basketball system.
It’s safe to say that no matter what happens, that will never change.
“The single-class tournament was a social event — the stuff that went on at the sectional at Southridge would blow your mind,” Bromm said. “They like to say society changed, but society didn’t change. The invention of class basketball changed what society did. They went behind our backs and kind of just shoved it to us. It deprived the high school athlete of achieving what I considered the ‘Holy Grail.’”
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