The winter season is just about to start heating up. There are ten area basketball teams, and they fall into all kinds of categories. The truth is, each could be put into a category of their own. For the purpose of today’s column, we will use three binders: one for those who could have a winning season, one for those who could have a losing season, and the I-don’t-know binder for those if don’t know if they will have a winning or a losing season. Five boys’ teams. Five girls’ team. Now let’s take a look at the three binders.
The teams expected to have winning seasons are the Fall Mountain girls (8-1/ 5-1), the Bellows Falls girls (5-1), the Springfield girls (3-1) and the Green Mountain girls (5-1). The truth is, I think the Lady Wildcats are the best of the bunch by far. Fall Mountain doesn’t play any of the Vermont teams; meanwhile there are meetings scheduled between each of the Vermont schools, thus they should be able to show one and all where they stand.
Those meetings should all be intriguing encounters, and they all begin just a few minutes after I write these words. Green Mountain is travels to Bellows Falls as of Tuesday, Jan. 9. Thus by the time the ink is dry, the Lady Chieftains may have proven my words were all wet and moved to the head of the three-team pack. The good news is that we have a number of teams to watch compete for something this winter, and it should be fun.
How many of our readers noticed that all four of the expected teams to have winning seasons were girls teams?
Moving onto the teams not expected to win more than they lose this winter. This list includes the Springfield boys’ team (0-7), the Black River boys (0-3), and the Black River girls’ (0-6). None of the included teams in this binder should come as a surprise to anyone because each of these teams have had trouble winning games in recent seasons, so it is more of the same.
While it is more of the same, one should also know that each of these teams should be better than the teams in the same uniforms last winter. The Springfield boys have not won a game in a couple of years, but I don’t just expect them to win a game this winter, I also think they are improving each and every game. The Black River boys won three times a winter ago, but they are now more competitive every time out. Opposing teams certainly have more concerns of being upset this winter than they have been in the past. The Black River girls are also showing, despite their record, that they have made visible advancements in the game.
Obviously, the most intriguing group is the one in the middle. If 40 percent of the teams will have winning seasons and 30 percent of the area teams will not, simple math tells you 30 percent have their fortunes up in the air. This group includes the Fall Mountain boys (5-4/3-3), the Green Mountain boys (3-3), and the Bellows Falls boys (1-3). Fall Mountain proved they were the best of those teams by running away from the Terriers 72-23 last week. The Terriers and the Chieftains have a couple of meetings down the road, which could be extremely interesting.
Before all is said and done, there could be some movement between the binders; but the deep feel here is that each team is pretty much stuck in the binder assigned – except those in the middle are more likely to go one way or the other. They could also finish 10-10 or 8-8 and never leave their binder. You could say they are bound to be there.
Now, onto girls’ basketball advances. Back in the day, girls’ basketball received no respect. First, the game was played with different rules with six players on the court for each team at a time, and two of them couldn’t play offense. They were also forced to play their games in the daytime, meaning no prime time action for the girls. The courts were reserved for “boys only” after dark. However, before the onset of Title IX, some “powers that were” found a way to both institute universal basketball rules for the female gender and arrange for games to be played at more convenient viewing hours for all. They may have been ahead of the times.
How far have the girls’ games come? The truth is, a very long ways.
In a poll conducted this week with all five area athletic directors, the attendance at boys’ and girls’ games is very close to even. Crowd sizes this winter to date have been so close, some directors couldn’t tell the difference. In some locales, the girls are outdrawing the boys, especially in places where the girls’ teams have a more competitive team and a better record. I am quite surprised this day has come.
I believe many of the crowds could be bigger if athletic directors went out of their way to schedule the overwhelming majority of the games on opposite days, so boys and girls team could play on separate days. Then parents and fans would not have to split on which game to attend. New Hampshire schools basically go by the system of both genders playing on the same day. It would be much more friendly to change that.
About the turn of the century in Vermont, generally boys’ games were on Monday and Friday night and girls’ games were on Tuesdays and Thursdays for half a season and then for the second half, they would switch the days. There were fewer conflicts and more choices for one and all. Even better, you needed fewer referees because there were fewer games each night. As a result, officials who were less experienced had fewer games, but they were broken in with a better supportive system. Why did that all change?
Schools and coaches didn’t want Monday games (as a former coach, I understand) and everyone wanted to play Friday games. No system is perfect, but I feel bad for the caring families that have to be separated most of the season, so there can be a parent at every game. The system should be more accommodating than that.
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