Saturday, January 23, 2010

Dribble, dribble, yawn

For the first time in nearly twenty-five years I attended a high school basketball game last night. The epic battle was between two large suburban schools, the Panthers and the Cruisers. My niece is a trainer for the Cruisers and we thought we would pop in for her sake. I was surprised at what I experienced.

We entered first for the JV game that was a well-fought contest ending in a victory for the Cruisers by two points. You could tell both sides wanted the game. The gym was half-empty but I thought that would change as we closed in on the varsity game. To my surprise, that didn't happen. What I witnessed was not what I remembered from my high school days.

I initially felt the anticipation of the event. It was the same feelings I remember 'back in the day'. This would be great, I thought. The game was a mismatch from the start with the Panthers ending the first quarter leading 22 - 5. Neither team was overly athletic or powerful but it was evident the Panthers played a much better team game. The referees were typical high school caliber but at least they let them play not calling every ticky-tack foul. And, also to my surprise it wasn't a 'three-point' fest as many games have become.

But, to an extent I was saddened by the lack of participation in what little crowd attended. These two schools likely have 800 to 1000 students attending each and they couldn't muster enough to fill half an average size gymnasium. There was no football team gathered, no wrestlers, no volleyballers, no significant group of anyone. The crowd seemed disinterested in the game itself with very little cheering. The only loud noises were from the cheerleaders who led no cheers for the crowd. The home band did not even stay in place for the end of the game.

I attended a smaller school from a six team Catholic league. Each school had a grudging respect/hatred for everyone else in the league. The games were hotly contested by both the teams and the crowd. Often you could not hear yourself think because it was so loud. Each game was an event not to be missed with nearly everyone wearing their colors. I saw virtually no one at last nights game wearing their school colors or emblems for either side. I guess from a league that literally has thirty schools there can't be rivalries among them all.

I realize this was only one game on a single Friday night, at a single suburban school and I shouldn't take it as a blanket statement of schools in this day and age, but the excitement that wasn't there was sure a disappointment.



  1. A few years ago I attended a Cardinals at Hawks game because the nephew of a friend was a Cardinal (BOO!). The teams were not great, but the gym was packed and LOUD and the entire atmosphere was terrific. It was a close contest, and I cannot reacll who won, not that it mattered.

    What I especially liked was the "directed" cheers from one school toward another (not "bad" or "you s*ck" type), which were at times clever.

    The Cardinals are an all-boys school, playing the Hawks, a co-ed school. At one point the Hawk cheerleaders came out onto the court to do their cheer. The boys on the Hawks side started chanting and clapping, "Those are girls! Those are girls!" toward the Cardinals, who promptly responded "They date us! They date us!"

    The two schools in your post are only a few miles apart as well, and normally the Cruisers teams are not good, but every team shouold get the best support they can.

    The Panthers played a Columbus city school this year in football, and at kickoff time there were MAYBE 20 people in the stands on the visitors side for the Columbus school. Eventually, abouy 100 people, including cheerleaders and a pep band "populated" the stands.

    Very sad.

  2. If I recall correctly the Hawks won that game because they hit a 3 point shot at the buzzer. I remember us discussing why the Cardinals did not foul immediately upon the inbounds pass because they were under the 1-and-1 and would have forced the Hawks to put the ball in play again and risk a turnover, as well as waste some time.

  3. Based on the turnout for last nights game there should be no parent crying about cutting sports the next time school boards can't pass a property tax levy.

  4. Well, at least in those two districts, anyway.

    Must be great to be young and have memory, Handsome Son.

  5. We see this out here, also, very few supporters for football, a bit more for basketball at my kids' high school. It's true also for drama, where even at reduced or no cost with student id, most of the folks present are related to the actors. Whatever happened to school spirit - the days when everybody went because it was the place to see and be seen? It is very sad.