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I’d like to recommend the cancellation of any future Seminole District basketball tournaments.
I doubt that idea will get much traction, but I’ll still put it out there.
Having lived through the latest tourney fiasco, a week and a half ago, I find myself firmly convinced that the tourney has outlived its usefulness.
Worse yet, it seems to be the springboard for the launching of incredibly bad behavior.
First, some background.
Like nearly every other sport (a notable exception is football), both boys’ and girls’ basketball have district tournaments.
The original purpose for the tournament was to generate a second seed from the district for regional competition. Prior to the tournaments coming along, the regular season champ represented the district in the post-season.
Hence, the tourney was born of a desire to expand the playoff pool.
As the Regional pool expanded even further (to four entrants from the Seminole) and the district shrank even further (to seven), things got even more diluted.
The latest move has been to split class AA into two divisions. I have yet to meet anyone who can coherently explain how this new system works.
With so many post-season opportunities, what is the point of the Seminole tourney?
Do you know how many teams saw their post-season plans change as a result of the tournament? I do: Zero.
Now, I’ve heard that some administrators want to keep the tournament around for the sake of tradition.
Is this so? Would that be the tradition of seeing players subjected to abuse from the stands? Or the tradition of players trying to charge those stands while sheriff’s deputies try to restrain them?
This last Seminole tournament was my third, and each one has been a circus.
Two years ago, a middle aged man directed obscenities and insults at a player until the young man snapped and tried to go after him in the stands.
Last season, a 40-something woman dropped an N-bomb on a player, then heaped on additional abuse while the young lady had a meltdown.
This year, an entire team was subjected to scorn and ridicule following its defeat in the finals. Many reacted in a boorish way until they were led off the court.
As much as I’d like to state that these cases centered around players from Amherst or Heritage or Brookville or Rustburg, they did not.
At the center of these incidents were players from our own county teams.
Interestingly, in all three incidents, the play on the court was superb. But, following all three games, it was the drama away from the play that was at the center of the story.
It seems that these tournaments are but dry tinder in search of a spark.
Issue 1: Why are there law enforcement officials at these games? Is it their role to restore order only after pandemonium has broken out? Or is it to nip problems in the bud?
They serve at the call of the on-site school administrators.
I’d like to think that they could be pointed in the direction of miscreants, and start throwing out hooligans prior to the committing of egregious offenses.
Issue 2: People who purchase tickets to these games are customers and they should be treated royally.
Being a customer, however, does not give one a free pass on one’s behavior.
I spent seven years in the U.S. Army and five in a factory. Yeah, I’ve heard some cussin’ in my day. Yet, even I find the language I hear coming out of the fans beyond the ken.
Has it occurred to anyone else that maybe, just maybe, some of the other customers are put off by what they hear? Issue 3: The penalties meted out to players and to fans are inequitable. I do not condone a player trying to go into the stands, nor do I condone the jawing back and forth between player and fan.
A player who does so risks getting booted from the game. A fan who does so risks getting booted from the venue.
Who do you think is affected more? Who do you think is missed more?
I have stated this before and will do so again: For whatever reason, we dole out more severe punishments to 16-year-old players than we do to 40-year-old fans.
My hat, and the hats of many fans, will be off to the first school administrator who uses the law enforcement officers he or she has at hand to start clearing out some of the rotten eggs at the first sign of stupidity.
Absent that, you can expect more inanity.
And if that, my friends, is the best tradition we can come up with, we’re better off without it.