By Hannah Hodge
Sports Capital Journalism Program, IUPUI
The NCAA Hall of Champions, in White River State Park in Indianapolis, is an interactive museum that showcases the history of college sports. The hall will host a reception at the APSE Summer Conference on Thursday, June 16, from 7-9 p.m.
The two-story building brings people from across the world to see the history of the NCAA. The popular tourist attraction offers an experience that gives you a better insight into the NCAA and plenty of photo opportunities such as a picture with a Division I Championship trophy. The museum also has hands-on exhibits including a half-court basketball area where there are markers showing exactly where legends of the sport have made critical shots and you can shoot around with friends and family.
Another experience that requires less work than shooting a ball into a hoop is a tennis exhibit that shoots a tennis ball at almost 100 mph at a clear glass panel you stand behind, a jumpscare for sure.
As you approach the building, the unusual architecture suggests the style of a stadium. “The way it was designed was to give a stadium feel, such as when you walk into a stadium and see the kiosk as you go along the corridors to get to your seats,” said Kelly Dodds, assistant director of operations, “and on the outside of the building there are the flags on top to illuminate the viewpoint of a stadium. We wanted to give the guest a game-day experience even if they have never been to a stadium.”
Once you enter the hall there is a lot to take in, with the arrangement of colorful banners, tall and bright trophies, and the life-sized statue of the flying wedge from football games of the early 1900s. At the beginning of the tour, the two main areas are kid- and family-friendly. One area is structured so you can write about your dream school and put it on a wall. This area also includes a short film that talks about the history of the NCAA.
The second section, known as the central area, showcases all 24 NCAA-sponsored sports. The hall is centered around hands-on experiences and information to teach the younger generations the importance of the NCAA and education. “I think it is really good for them to understand that there are a lot of opportunities,” said Dodds.
As the 50th anniversary of Title IX takes place later this month, an exhibit in the Hall of Champions is located on the museum’s second floor. The seven large frames consist of a timeline from the starting point to the current status of Title IX. Besides the timeline, the frames also showcase pictures of critical events at the beginning of Title IX.
An example of an important event is the Battle of the Sexes in 1973, when Billie Jean King defeated Bobby Riggs in a tennis match. Another event shown is when the NCAA offered championships for women’s intercollegiate athletics. In 1982 the NCAA crowned a Division I National Championship for the first time in women’s sports.
The exhibit includes a description not only of what the 50th anniversary of Title IX means to women but also the impact it made around the world. The description states, “In the spring of 2022, the Title IX at 50 reports will be released and highlight important information regarding the status of women in intercollegiate athletics.” There is also a history of HBCU schools and the impact the key events have had on the country.