An in-depth look at the Illinois High School Association, or IHSA, is the newest addition to the oral history project for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
Dozens of one on one interviews with successful coaches, talented athletes and even journalists who covered high school sports, examine the important role athletics and activities play throughout the state and its history.
Philip Pogue, who spearheaded the project and has a lifetime of experience as an IHSA official, says the vital role athletics have in nearly every community is what resonates with him the most.
“In some cases school funding facilities were a challenge, but the community would get behind it and they would really work together," said Pogue. "Sports and activities and the high school are kind of the backbone of a community.”
Outside of the most well-known high school sports like football or basketball, the project also includes band, scholastic bowl and more.
Susie Knoblauch of the IHSA was interviewed for the project. She says it’s the future of athletics that is most exciting. “Could you imagine a state football playoffs going on at the same time with an e-football madden game where you have the e-gaming students and then the live play as well? It’s limitless.”
The project highlights the role Illinois athletics play on a national level. Illinois helped create the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) and is one of the original copyright stakeholders for the term “March Madness.”