You probably thought this post was about Christmas. Sorry. I love Christmas but the time of year I’m referring to is basketball season. The only basketball I’ve ever played was in my driveway and a few hellish days during physical education class my senior year of college (I had to guard a starting player for the Georgetown College Lady Tigers team. Thankfully we were friends and she didn’t kill me in the process). I did try out for the Hindman Yellowjackets in the fourth grade but I didn’t make the team. I was pretty disappointed but I was also pretty terrible.
I have loved basketball as long as I can remember. I’ve been to games all over the 14th region and now that I live in Central Kentucky I’ve covered a lot of the 10th region. Even though I wasn’t blessed with any athletic ability, I have always loved to write. My career as a sports writer began in the seventh grade and continued through college where I was sports editor and later editor. I was a stat girl for my high school team as well. I just loved being around the game. I got to be a part of the team without messing up my fabulous early 1990’s big hair.
I love high school and college basketball. But if I had to choose, I would pick high school. I think this is the sport in its purest form and here is why:
–No recruiting. (Unless we are talking about some private schools, Scott County, and the glory days of Clay County)
–Old gyms. They smell weird, have horrible bathrooms, and host the best games. New modern gyms are certainly more comfortable (and safer) but I appreciate a place full of tradition. A cavernous room that has held the hopes and dreams of so many young kids and also doubled as a dance floor, lunch room, and possibly hosted a family reunion or two.
–Concession stands. A truly exceptional high school basketball game experience requires a cold Pepsi, popcorn that is not burned or microwaved, and a worker who knows when to cut a kid a break when he’s short $.50.
–The state tournament. If we ever move to a class system like Indiana, I will be devastated. Yes, the big city teams dominate but there are also those special moments when a tiny school walks out of that Rupp Arena locker room. Then there are the crazy awesome times when a small school wins the championship game in front of their hometown because the whole town drove to Lexington.
I don’t know if any of my girls will be basketball players. If they want to play, I will encourage them and if they don’t, I’ll still feed them. But I do hope they will enjoy watching games with me. Maybe I’ll be a little too loud or tell the girls for the tenth time about that “game in Breathitt County where your Uncle Nathan got slammed to the floor and I was getting ready to whip somebody from Perry County…” I hope they can tolerate me. If they can’t, I’ll send them to the concession stand for more candy.