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The Hoosierist: Off The Wall

A squash-court shortage, family farms, and the legality of paddling. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: My friend visited Indy and wanted to play squash, but couldn’t find a court anywhere. Is this weird for a city our size?
A: The Hoosierist, a fan of ’80s teen movies, still sees squash as the game snooty businessmen play while discussing a scheme to foreclose on the local youth center and turn it into condos. But Indiana Squash Association president Howard May says that in these parts, the only thing in danger of vanishing is squash itself. “Years ago, Indianapolis was a vibrant squash hub,” he says. But then the Indianapolis Athletic Club closed, taking with it most of the area’s courts. For a while, there was only one court in the city, until the L.A. Fitness in Westfield recently debuted five new ones. Needless to say, it’s now the epicenter of Indy’s squash world.

Q: I was telling my kid about how I used to get paddled in school, and i got to wondering: Is that still legal here?
A: During The Hoosierist’s checkered grade school career, he got his butt blistered many times. So he wasn’t surprised to learn that Indiana is one of 19 states where corporal punishment is still perfectly legal. According to state law, “teachers can take disciplinary action as necessary to promote orderly student conduct in the same manner a parent may.” It’s up to individual school districts to determine what this means. Many systems have either banned the practice (including Indianapolis Public Schools) or simply don’t resort to it. The reasons are pretty simple. Back when The Hoosierist was getting his backside warmed, parents rarely, if ever, sued schools for such conduct. These days, that’s hardly the case, and schools that can barely afford textbooks are loath to engage in behaviors that might embroil them in a lawsuit. There are also studies showing that corporal punishment doesn’t do squat. It certainly didn’t change The Hoosierist’s attitude.

Q: Does Indiana have many family farms anymore?
A: If by “family farm” you mean a 100-acre spread that has a few cows, chickens, and a collie named Lassie, then yes. According to Indiana Farmers Union president Jim Benham, there are still quite a few folks who farm part-time on small properties, but who also work outside jobs. “They’re farming as a hobby, as much as anything,” Benham says. Some family farms still pull their own weight, but they’re usually big—3,000 acres or more. There may be hope for smaller operators, though. Benham says the recent legalization of hemp—a profitable crop used for its fiber and CBD oil—could make small farms viable again. Indeed, with one acre of hemp valued at $12,000, The Hoosierist is thinking about planting some in his backyard.

Have Indiana-related questions? Send them to [email protected].

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