GARY | This used to be a crown jewel of Hoosier Hysteria. A bright fire burning on cold winter nights.
That's what the Gary Holiday Tournament used to be, back in the days when many found gainful employment in the Steel City.
Friday night at West Side High School the past greatness of this event had been transformed into bleacher after bleacher of emptiness.
Here are a few tips from these eyes on how to restore the Gary Holiday Tournament to what it should be.
Leadership: The Times is the second largest newspaper in Indiana. Millions of people get their information from us. Guess when The Times got the schedule for the GHT?
On Wednesday night about 8 p.m. I had to call city athletic director Earl Smith Jr. to find out who was playing and when.
He said, “My secretary was supposed to get that to you guys a long time ago.”
Just like all the years in the past, trying to get the schedule for this tournament is like trying to find gold in a haystack.
Even John Harrell's remarkable hoops website did not have the schedule. Come on, folks, it isn't that difficult.
Al Gore and rosters: If you walked in to take in some games in Gary, you would've been lost. Unless you were related to someone on the floor.
Roosevelt's roster was not in the program. Smith said he tried to get the Panthers' roster but to no avail. Lew Wallace's boys roster was in the program. Congratulations, Hornets!
Here's the problem, though. There is no first name for your players. Just an initial. If you're related to the player you're fine. If you're with the media or just a fan, good luck trying to figure it all out. Next to impossible.
The Lew Wallace girls roster had first names. But about seven of the numbers were incorrect.
Al Gore invented in the internet about 20 years ago. Computers can be found everywhere. Why can't one person at each school update the basketball rosters?
Promote your kids. They deserve it. Or they'll keep moving to the south.
Good to see: Former Wirt boys basketball coach Omar Vasquez is now coaching Lew Wallace's girls. Again and again, or so it seems. Yes, the Hornets got pounded by West Side on Thursday night, but they own a 4-2 record.
Progress is being made. Give the Big O a chance.
Good to see, again: Rod Fisher is building a powerhouse at West Side. His girls are talented, gifted and on the brink of making a run south. Amari Ferguson is the real deal. The sophomore point guard is not alone. The Fisher King will have an opportunity to win a state crown in the coming three seasons.
What this tourney needs: Beyond new leadership at the top who understands how to run something correctly, the Bowman Academy Eagles must return to the holiday tournament in their home town just a few blocks from their school.
How many more tickets would be sold if West Side's girls were playing the Eagles in the final instead of some school from Chicago? Many, many more, I believe.
Marvin Rea's boys team from Bowman played in Evansville and Indianapolis this weekend. That's a lot of gas money, food money and hotel dough. Plus, region fans can not see the Eagles without a gas card.
Put the old politics aside and get Bowman into the Gary Holiday Tournament. I would love to see these Eagles play either West Side or Lew Wallace in the boys final.
This thing has been too good to let die. But changes have to be made or it will.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.