A friend of mine in the broadcast business just came back from work in Maine. He had not been to the state before.
“Man,” he said, “all I heard about was the high school basketball tournaments going on.”
That’s a good thing.
Have no second thoughts Maine, in recognizing that the excitement generated by tourney time is real and a big deal.
This is a time when almost all sports at every level are measured in business terms: How much was made, who gets big contracts, who got to shine so they can move on to more moneyed times.
Few college, much less pro players, come out of Maine high school basketball programs. One might think the high school games don’t matter in the state for that reason.
Why just go to a game to see kids play for a high school?
That. of course, is the whole point. The tourney matters to every kid who ever played (or broadcast) in one.
The caravans from towns that follow the teams to the game sites, the family names that dominate the small schools, the County teams that head south to make a point they still can play the game up there and the teams from Down East who take the ferry to catch the bus are what make tourney time special.
I love to tell the stories of broadcasting the games in Bangor when the Alleys and the Beals were seven out of nine or 10 players on a team from a small lobstering community.
Those were the easiest games in the world to announce. You couldn’t be wrong with “Alley to Beal.”
It doesn’t hurt that the games come just when cabin fever is about 200 degrees and it seems like the sun will never shine and the snow will never stop. By the time the dribbles end, one can actually think a robin might show up soon.
Never slough off the attention given to the games in Maine. There is much to be said for the community cohesion the event gives to the entire state.
Those banners that hang on gym walls all over the state all have a dozen stories to tell and if you listen closely you will hear them told again and again.
There is much to be said for the memories the kids will always have. It is important for them to realize this is a high point on the curve of those matters in life that one will look back on and smile.
I wrote this before Ernie Clark’s column that appeared this week, lamenting the fact tourney time was over.
I was going to eighty-six the column and do another, but then decided there can’t be too many good words spoken about the weeks in February that are warmed from the hard court.
Congrats to all the players who got to enjoy a really special time in a really special place.
And hello to George Hale, George Gonyar, Rich Kimball, and Bob Woodbury-a few of those I was lucky enough to enjoy tourney time with at the mike.