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INDIANA BASKETBALL FROM WIRE TO LIVE STREAM

On Saturday March 12, 2022, I sat in Dallas, Texas, and watched my alma mater, North Daviess High School in Elnora, Indiana, win the Class 1A Loogootee Basketball Regional. From my daughter’s living room, on her smart TV, being “cast” from my wife’s I-phone, I was able to enjoy all the action. Can I explain the technology? No, but that doesn’t keep me from using it or appreciating it. Compared to what was happening 100 years earlier, it is pretty amazing how far we have advanced. From the staff of The Indiana Magazine of History, posted June 24, 2013: A few towns offered basketball by wire—a telephone wire was run into a local theater, where fans could gather. One reporter sat at the game as it was being played. He was on the telephone with an announcer in the theater, who would then convey both descriptions and scores to the assembled crowd. In December 1920, the Franklin Evening Star described an evening “almost as thrilling as watching the real game” between teams from Franklin and Martinsville. The audience watched a so-called “electronic basketball court,” which was no more than a scoreboard with colored lights that flashed with each score.

Two men come to my mind when I think about how the broadcasting of basketball has been expanded in my lifetime. First is Mark Cuban. Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of “Shark Tank” was a major influence on the broadcasting of basketball games and live streaming technology. Personally, Cuban and I graduated from the Indiana University Kelley school of business in 1981. It would make this story more interesting to say that he and I were good friends and had several classes together, unfortunately, I cannot make that claim. However, I can say that we both shared a frustration in not being able to closely follow lU basketball while living out of Indiana. He was in Texas, while I was in Ocala, Florida, trying to pick-up IU Basketball broadcasts from Fort Wayne’s powerful station WOWO. Roaming all over my home, hoping to bring in the game on my AM portable radio, I was looking for that strong signal almost a thousand miles away. Sometimes, on clear nights, Don Fischer, the voice of the Hoosiers, came in loud and clear. Other nights, his voice might break the constant static for short moments, then only to be drowned out by Cleveland Cavalier basketball, or music from Havana or a multitude of other transmissions. But while I was in Ocala, trying to find that strong signal, Cuban was in Texas trying to take that same strong signal over the internet. He got it done.

Todd Wagner, another IU grad, joined Cuban in forming Broadcast.com in 1998. The company was wildly successful. The next year they had grown to 330 employees. Second quarter profits were $13.7 million. They also helped launch the first live streamed Victoria Secrets Fashion Show. A few months later, Yahoo acquired Broadcast.com for $5.7 billion in Yahoo stock. No longer would I struggle to listen to IU basketball!

The second man that came to mind was my cousin, Rick Hudson. Rick, also an IU grad, passed away last May. In 2009, Rick joined Gregg Orman in the radio booth. In 2012, they formed Greene County Sports Network (GCSN) and became pioneers in live streaming high school sports in southern Indiana. Soon grandparents, relatives, and interested parties not able to attend local high school basketball games in the Greene County area were able to view the games live streamed by GCSN. In the basketball season before the pandemic, they live streamed 72 games. During the pandemic, they almost doubled their games, and in one stretch GCSN did 24 games in fourteen days. They were meeting the needs of people who could not, or were afraid to leave their homes, along with all the other “regular” viewers. They even expanded their event coverage, doing two high school graduations and 10 days of the Greene County 4-H Fair. Gregg told me, “Seven hours of chickens and eight hours of rabbits was a little too much, but they want us to cover it again this summer.” Thanks Mark Cuban!

Saturday, North Daviess will play in the Semi-State at Seymour. The game is a “mobile ticket” only event. This might be challenging for fans over the age of fifty. But hey, if you can’t figure out the on-line ticket process; don’t worry the game will be live streamed! GO COUGARS!

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