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Inside the Chrome Dome (archive May 2007)

Please refer to the Inside the Chrome Dome main page for columns published in other issues.




 Here’s to Hoping the Local Rumor Mill is Full of Crap

So there I am, standing on my front porch Tuesday afternoon pondering what to do with the information – or lack thereof – I have inside this head everyone refers to as “The Chrome Dome.”

I received information about a Knightstown coach that made me momentarily sad, and that information came from a pretty good source. When I confronted the subject of that information, I was given a sort of denial that, well, wasn’t exactly a denial.

That left me dealing with what could be an unfounded rumor, or on the other hand, a news scoop. When I first started writing about sports more than 30 years ago, my high school journalism instructor at Knightstown High School was Diana Darling. She once told me the first thing you need for your story is the basic facts. Everything else is just fluff.

Ever since then, my favorite saying has always been, “Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.” (just kidding.)

But the reality is, we do our best to deal in facts at this newspaper, even if I don’t always get the story right the first time. Corrections always have been and always will be published when we are wrong, and I’ve done that a few, um, times, in my career.

Early man first published corrections long ago. They carved those apologies in the sides of cliffs to avoid lawsuits when incorrect information flowed from cave to cave, causing false rumors to be spread around those newly-invented campfires.

The most famous of those rumors involved the improvement of an earlier invention called the wheel. A caveman referred to by others only as “P” allegedly came up with a double-wheel that was not only easier to balance, but had much better traction. Back then, the cavemen called that double-wheel “P-Track”.

Of course, that rumor was false, and P-track wasn’t invented until the 20th century.

But the rumor does remind me of the many discussions I’ve had on who was the inventor of the flush toilet. That’s a subject that has long fascinated me and I’m sure many others. Urban legend has it that the flush toilet was invented by one Thomas Crapper, a London plumber who later founded the Thomas Crapper & Co. Ltd. in London.

According to legend, Crapper’s flush toilet is where the nickname for the toilet, “the crapper”, originated.

Unfortunately, I recently found out that Crapper didn’t invent the flush toilet. However, he did go a long way in popularizing the toilet, and came up with several related inventions in the plumbing business.

There are actually manhole covers with Crapper's company's name on them in Westminster Abbey, and they are a minor tourist attraction. There’s one I’ll bet you didn’t know.

I guess I’ll get to get to the point I’ve been trying to avoid.

I really don’t like dealing in rumors, because anyone who’s been in this town for more than five minutes knows there is a Knightstown rumor mill that is more active than a Thomas Crapper invention, and usually full of the same debris.

But apparently, there is a town north of Kokomo with a comparable rumor mill. The town is called Bunker Hill, and it is located just down the road from Grissom Air Force Base.

Right next to the town is Maconaquah High, a Class 3A school that is in need of a coach. Their rumor mill has Knightstown varsity basketball coach Chad Ballenger heading that direction once their school board votes to approve his hiring at its May 23 meeting.

Back in Knightstown, Athletic Director Dave Bradford and Superintendent Dave McGuire both said they had not heard anything about Ballenger leaving the KHS program.

I talked to Ballenger Tuesday afternoon on his way to the athletic fields to teach a physical education class, and I asked him if he was leaving KHS to take the job at Maconaquah.

“There are a lot of rumors going around,” Ballenger said. “As of right now, I am the head basketball coach at Knightstown. If that changes, I’ll call you.”

That was it - not exactly a denial.

I didn’t push the issue any further, but I did call a source close to the situation at Maconaquah. We both agreed this is pretty much in a rumor-denial mode on the part of both parties.

I hate dealing in rumors, but I would hate even more to see the school lose one of the best basketball coaches in its history.

I’m sure we’re all going to find out if the rumors are just that, or if there is something to them, in about two weeks. That’s when the Maconaquah school board meets to hear, and likely vote, on the recommendation of its basketball coach search team.

Here’s to hoping this is all just a rumor. If not, that would be a real Crapper.




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