Nothing unites a community like high school sports does. Always has, hopefully always will!

I mean, sports and academics go hand-in-hand. Right? Yes, it should.

And it starts in the fall when students return to school from their summer recess.

Some folks will tell you that high school sports is FOOTBALL.

Good argument. Some others might say it’s BASKETBALL. 

But keep in mind that football draws more families, neighbors and friends. It really is a social event for many fans.

Many schools even have tailgate cookouts. Carmel, Hamilton SE and Hamilton Heights are some of the best, with Fishers and Guerin Catholic not far behind.

But when it comes to a strong fan base, the student sections at HSE and Fishers and Guerin are hard to beat.

When events move indoors during basketball season, I would have to give Noblesville schools the nod — The Mill and Guerin’s Eagles Nest for loud and proud cheering and foot stomping in the bleachers.

And this year the Millers will host the Class 4A Sectional 8 boys tournament in March.

Thinking back a few more years:

Remember when there was talk of possibly cutting coaches’ salaries and coaching positions and talk of going to a pay-for-play system in high school athletics for both boys and girls student-athletes?

Probably most of you do. It was a really hot topic that drew the ire of many.

As I recall, I think this discussion surfaced about 10 years-or-so-ago when we were making plans to celebrate 100 years of Indiana high school basketball.

(My memory of dates could be a tad off.)

So, does anyone recall that discussion over pay-for-play? Pay-for-play, of course, means for student-athletes having to pay a certain amount to help cover team expenses. 

Yes, I know most schools have since implemented that to cover expenses for bus travel, etc . . .  and some still do.

Do I agree? Nope. Not at all.

And I would also be against cutting coaches’ salaries should that ever happen. I mean, HELLO . . . coaches don’t coach for a paycheck, though any stipend they receive can help a family household.

A friend of mine who used to coach boys varsity basketball, once told me that he was shocked when he sat down one night and tried to figure out how many hours he put in on basketball each week and how much he figured he made per hour.

He said that when you figure practice time, games played, travel and scouting during the week, wow . . . he said he probably made less than 40 cents per hour.

“He chuckled out loud: “Hey, we certainly don’t do it for the money, you know.’’

Yes, I get it and I agree . . . coaches coach for the Love of the Game, regardless of what they get on top of their annual salary to teach!

*—Mark Morrow, a Hall of Fame Indiana sportswriter, has resided in Hamilton County since 1989. You can follow him in The Times, and on Twitter at mmediamarko12. He can be reached at mediamarko5@gmail.com or by calling 317 460-8018.