Iowa Girls 6-on-6 State Basketball Tournament: A Really Good Show

At the state tournament in Des Moines, there was no guarantee of a good basketball game, no guarantee that you favorite team would get into the playoffs, but there was a guarantee that the tournament would be a really good show. This segment is from Iowa PBS’s More Than a Game: 6-on-6 Basketball in Iowa documentary.


Announcer: that is the championship! You can tell who won it as you look out there and Lakeview-Auburn going absolutely mad.
Narrator: For decades, six-on-six was the breadwinner for the Iowa Girls' High School Athletic Union. In 1975 girls' basketball brought in nearly 80 percent of the union's total gross income. A few years later, the sport made enough revenue to support fifteen others. While Texas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma have had longtime girls' basketball programs, none has been continuous. Additionally, Iowa has held official state basketball tournaments for young women since 1920. In most other states, such events didn't get underway until the 1970s, some fifty years later.
Announcer:  The crowd eagerly awaits the start of the championship game.

Narrator: without a doubt, the crown jewel of the union was the annual girls' state basketball tournament. While always a favorite pastime of Iowans, under cooley's reign, the finals became not only A night of basketball, but a really good show.
[Music with Lyrics]
Let the light shine on me.
Let the light shine on you.
Narrator: players and fans alike relished the fanfare, from the flashy half-time shows to the pride-filled parade of champions. Mike Newell started doing play-by-play for girls' basketball in 1966.
Mike Newell, Play-by-play reporter: The genius of wayne cooley, he couldn't guarantee a great basketball game. He couldn't guarantee that this favorite team would be in the finals -- they may get bumped off -- but he could guarantee a good time. This is a celebration. Wayne cooley and his staff are saying a celebration of women's basketball, come on down and experience it.
E. Wayne Cooley, Executive Secretary, IGHSAU 1954 - 2002:: the thing that made the girls' tournament so unusual was what I always called the marginal audience, was a huge part of the audience, a big part of the audience. They're the people that bought their tickets far in advance so they could have a seat. They didn't know who they were for, and they didn't even care. They just wanted to be there.


© 2008 Iowa PBS


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