by Alan B. Gibson
KHSAA stepped in it this time
My neighbor, Jamie Sparks, broke the news to me last week that I had somehow missed the day before and I just looked at him at first – waiting on the punch line.
It never came.
For the first time since anyone can remember, the Kentucky High School Athletic Association won’t be crowning a boys’ basketball state champion on Saturday night.
Word came last week that the KHSAA had made the decision to try something different this year with the championship game – namely ruin the atmosphere of a century old tradition by not playing the semis on Saturday morning, followed by the Saturday night championship game.
Instead, the championship game – and the lead-in pre-game production that is often better than the game – will be played sometime on Sunday afternoon.
Reason why? Seems UK and Coach Cal might want to play a game on Saturday afternoon on that March 9, so the KHSAA just rolled over and said they would change their nearly 100 year-old tradition and move the championship game to Sunday.
Now I’m all for trying new things, but this ain’t new. I’ve been to Sunday afternoon championship games, and there’s just something about them that’s not magic. Since it’s beginning, or nearly anyway, the All “A” Classic has showcased it’s championship round on Sunday afternoon. Sure, Clinton County has played in a few, and even won a couple, but the atmosphere surrounding the Sunday afternoon game just wasn’t as exciting as a Saturday night championship.
I’m also sure that there is plenty more to the story that didn’t get told to the public, and the details of each entity’s contracts with Rupp didn’t get a lot of attention either, but seems to me that the heads in charge could have put a little more effort into fixing this for the throngs of fans who enjoy the atmosphere of the Sweet 16 Saturday night final.
I ran into Charlie and Marion Cyphers over the weekend, and for many, many years now, I have talked to them on Saturday afternoon after the morning session enjoying a meal at the same restaurant that has become our Saturday afternoon tradition as well.
This past weekend, Charlie said about the situation “We’ve talked about it, and I’ve been to one Sunday afternoon high school game and it just wasn’t any fun. We’re not going at all next year.”
Charlie wasn’t referring to just the championship game – for the first time in a long, long time, the couple are going to skip the entire eight-session tournament.
We are creatures of habit, and the Sweet 16 habit is, for most, go to the Saturday night championship game, watch the pre-game production, watch at least some of the championship game and depending on which teams are playing and just how good the contest actually is – leave early, or stay.
Sunday morning – get up and go home.
Apparently not in 2013 – at least the Saturday night part.
Come Saturday night, Lexington will look like a ghost town with the early exiting that will come following the semi-final round – regardless of the time of day they decide to play it.
Come Sunday afternoon, Rupp Arena will look like a ghost town when they tip off the Sweet 16 championship game.
I’d guess right now that the odds are about 99-1 that when they tip off the Sweet 16 championship game on Sunday afternoon, I’ll be on my couch at home, with an unused “Session 8” ticket in my pocket.
The girls’ tourney is unchanged – the championship game in Diddle will tip off on Saturday night as usual.
Sounds like a Title IX violation to me!