”Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow.”
And with that, Shakespeare’s star-crossed heroine, Juliet, bids adieu to her beloved Romeo at the end of Act II, oblivious to what twists of fate await the lovers. So it was, too, at New Albany (IN) High School, Monday night.
Romeo Langford said goodbye to his storybook high school career in a melodrama that would have made the bard blush.
Langford, who endured relentless media conjecture, opted to continue his basketball career at Indiana University in a live ceremony in front of thousands of fans, and an eager internet audience.
Folks began lining up outside Bulldog Gymnasium in the early afternoon — the very place where in 2016 Langford and his teammates came home to celebrate winning the state championship.
What they saw for their patience was a young man donning a hat. The act was simple. The symbolism was profound. For the first time in years, the state’s best player is staying in Indiana to play college basketball — if even for just a while.
As commitment ceremonies go, take away the myriads of screaming fans, and it was pretty much like any other commitment ceremony that has cheerleaders, music, a video highlight segment, and the expectations (and revenues) of three universities riding in the balance.
The best part of the show was that the Langfords — dad, Tim, included — handled the whole recruiting process and the reveal with a classiness emblematic of the young man himself. The show was glitzy, perhaps, but it was their show. It should be.
“Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.”
The buildup, on the other hand, was fortune’s fool. For most of Romeo’s senior season, media attention fell on his approaching college choice more frequently than it did on his amazing talents — on the court AND in the classroom.
When will he declare? First, announcement was planned for the conclusion of his senior season. Then it was after the McDonald’s All-American Game; then an actual date ultimately was announced.
The run-up was excruciating. Thankfully, the Langfords furnished the play-closer — and with it a rabid ovation.
Surely the biggest cheers came from the hordes in the state-wide media section, who now have a whole year’s worth of basketball story lines set for next season.
However, don’t fault the media entirely for the build-up. Their job is to report things that mean the most to the most people. In general, the people — a great many people, at least — wanted the media to guess where Romeo would matriculate, and the media provided those guesses. The more they speculated, the more people wanted more guesses, in kind of a Mobius Loop of worthless information.
“Take it in what sense thou wilt.”
Now that is all behind us. We can just enjoy watching one of the state’s most talented prodigies go to work. He truly is fun to watch. Waxing Juliet’s oxymoronic farewell:
The sorrow of watching Romeo’s high school career end is bitter. Looking forward is oh, so sweet.
John O. Marlowe spent most of his career as a “pine-time” player, and was football's first DH (dummy holder) for Wabash College in the late 1970's. New to the art of the sports beat writer, Marlowe has spent forty years – and nearly $11,000 – following Indiana high school sports.