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JIM PETERS: Mishler's tourney proposal: Play 'em both
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JIM PETERS: Mishler's tourney proposal: Play 'em both

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Is there a place in Indiana where we can all exist in harmony?

I don't mean Purdue and IU fans getting along. That's never going to happen.

I'm talking about the division in high school basketball between supporters of the old single-class format and the proponents of the current multi-class system.

There are plenty of proposals out there, but none of them endeavored to incorporate both concepts. Until now.

Earl Mishler, a former sports writer with the South Bend Tribune and the man behind the E.T. Pearl website, a cherished source of hoops information, has come up with the 'Play 'Em Both' plan.

"I thought it was one last chance to save Hoosier Hysteria," Mishler said. "Somebody said the situation cries out for a compromise, but the feelings on each side are pretty strong. We've come this far, finding a common ground really, to me, is almost impossible. They are two such divergent concepts. If you can do both, I don't see how they can complain."

In Mishler's tournament, an open-class champion would be crowned as well as a champion in classes 3A, 2A and A, all over a span of five weeks.

Play begins with 64 open-class sectionals in week one. In week two, there would be 48 class sectionals with the open-class regionals on the weekend.

This is where it gets fun. As any 3A, 2A or A team that wins a sectional, regional or semistate is knocked out of the open-class tournament, it would drop down into its class to take on the winner of the class in a 'super' sectional, regional or semistate. Mishler has also accounted for the possibility of multiple teams from one open sectional winning titles. You'll just have to go to his site for details.

The open state finals would be held in week four, concurrent with the class semistate. The class finals would follow the next week.

A lot to process? I initially thought the same thing, but as I worked my way through it, I realized it wasn't really that complicated.

"I don't know how you can accomplish the goals there are to accomplish and have it still be simple," Mishler said. "You can get bogged down in details. I just think the issues aren't a problem that couldn't be resolved if we really want to."

Too many games? Not so much. Mishler said it would take a maximum of 10 games for a class team to reach the state finals.

"We used to have 12-, 14-team sectionals," he said. "Over a five-week period, I don't think it's too taxing."

Under Mishler's proposal, the tournament would generate almost twice as much revenue as the current system, restore all of the old backyard sectional rivalries without disturbing the newer ones and not disrupt current regular-season schedules. Likewise, it can be applied to other sports such as softball, baseball and volleyball.

"I have no agenda," said Mishler, an admitted traditionalist. "I'm just offering a suggestion. I'm not saying it's perfect, carved in stone. I'm just throwing it out there to see if there's any groundswell of support."

To take a closer look at the plan and delve into the drop downs, carryovers, research and scenarios, go to Mishler's E.T. Pearl site. It's an impressive undertaking from a guy who obviously loves his Hoosier high school hoops.

On that, we can all agree.


This column represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at



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