ATHENS, Ill (NEXSTAR) — H.V. Porter first stepped into the Athens High School gym in 1918.
Porter coached the basketball team to a second place finish at the state tournament in 1924.
The entire school has been rebuilt around it, but the court, the hoops and even the scoreboard remain.
“For those people who, who were born here, grew up here and continue to live here, and who have spent a lot of time researching, you know, H.V. Porter and his importance, for Athens and basketball, I think it’s really important to the community,” Athens High School Athletic Director Ryan Knox said.
It’s a perfect metaphor for his impact on basketball.
The game is completely different from when he coached in the 1920’s, but the foundations he laid are still core parts of the game.
“It’s hard not to watch any kind of basketball game and not appreciate his influence. on the game itself,” Kurt Gibson, IHSA Associate Director said.
H.V. Porter went on to become a revolutionary for the game of basketball.
During his time with the IHSA, he called the state basketball tournament a name that will live on forever — March Madness.
“It is special every time you hear that phrase March Madness,” Gibson said. “It’s really one of the deep feelings of pride that we feel every time we say it, write it or hear somebody else say it, because it started here in Illinois.”
He also came up with the fan-design for the backboard and helped create the modern version of the basketball. Before then, basketballs had seams on the outside, like a football.
His influence is also in the rules of the game. It was his idea that players have to cross half court in 10 seconds, and it was his idea to do away with the rule that there was a jump ball after every made basket.
“He probably came up with those ideas while he was coaching here, you know, actually watching and coaching the game,” Knox said.