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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Hoops, harmony, and history: Indy’s economic scoreboard

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Deborah Asante
Deborah Asante

In the heart of Indianapolis, the echoes of bouncing basketballs resonate through the corridors of history, intertwining the worlds of sports, culture, and economics. Over the years, Indiana has become an emerging epicenter, an unofficial sports capital in the Midwest. In fact, in the coming year, Indy will host various national and global events, including NBA All-Star Weekend in February, and in 2025, for the first time ever, the U.S. Olympic Team Trials will take place on a football field at Lucas Oil Stadium. And while these events promise to bring unprecedented visibility and economic impact to the city, they also offer meaningful reflection points for our state.

In 49 states, it’s just basketball… But this is Indiana where the game is more than a sport; it’s a cultural phenomenon, and this February, all roads lead to the Circle City for All-Star 2024. Before we start debating who will win the Slam Dunk Contest, or if the East will finally defeat the West, Indianapolis is pausing to celebrate the historic championship team that shattered the ceilings of oppression through athletics.

Attucks High School, named after Crispus Attucks, an African American man and the first casualty of the American Revolution, has a unique place in history. Established in 1927 as the city’s first all-Black high school, Attucks faced adversity but rose above it through achievements on many academic and artistic fronts and most spectacularly with its basketball team. The 1955 Crispus Attucks Tigers, under the guidance of Coach Ray Crowe, made history by becoming the first All-Black high school team to win a national championship anywhere in the United States. Their story will take center stage in the production, ‘A Touch of Glory’ presented by Deborah Asante & Artists in partnership with GANGGANG.

A magical theatrical experience that transcends time to bring forth the inspiring story of Oscar Robertson and his basketball teammates at Crispus Attucks High School in 1955, ‘A Touch of Glory’ is the result of six years of dedicated work by playwright Laura Town. Town conducted extensive research into the time, including interviews with key figures such as the Crowe family, Bill Hampton, John Gipson, Willie Merriweather, and Hallie Bryant. The meticulous attention to detail and representation reflects the commitment to telling this remarkable story with authenticity. ‘A Touch of Glory’ extends beyond the immediate influx of visitors and serves to offer a long-overdue celebration of these tremendous Black Hoosiers and their accomplishments as national champions.

‘A Touch of Glory’ will premier with free Community Previews on February 9, 10, and 11. The production will return during All-Star Weekend, with showings on February 16, 17, and 18. Tickets cost $20 when purchased through Eventbrite or $30 at the door. This production is best suited for audiences 13 years of age and above.

As Indianapolis prepares to host All-Star 2024 and to showcase the historic achievements of the 1955 Crispus Attucks Tigers, it’s not just a celebration of basketball—it’s a recognition of the economic significance that emerges when hoops, harmony, and history converge in the heart of Indiana. We hope to see you at the show.

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