THIS + THAT – When Tuesday and Friday night games were the highlight



School winter vacation is quickly approaching. If you have any connection with public schools, you know that it seems like the schools have already had their winter vacation. The constant snow days and delayed openings make it almost appear like kids are never in school. Which isn’t anything like the old days.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know what a snow day was. Honest. I believe, by the time I graduated from high school, school had been closed for weather circumstances, four or less times in my twelve years. I am telling the truth, that I didn’t know what a snow day was. The term snow day, as far as I know, hadn’t been invented yet.

Those three or four days, in which school was closed in those twelve years, the storms were so bad, that the storm was the focus, not the closing of school. Digging out was the only concern.

This “look the other way” approach with storms back then carried over to the sports world. There were postponements in those days, but I believe the only basketball postponements were when school was closed; therefore they were few and far between. It was not one bit unusual for a team to head out in a snowstorm to play a game and the good news is, those bus drivers did a good job. I don’t remember any accidents. Good or bad, that was certainly a different time.

This year’s bad weather started quite a trend a few weeks ago. Tuesdays are usually a very busy basketball night on the calendar and lately, every Tuesday a storm would knock out a slate of games. The postponements have reached such a level (this week it was Monday that was wiped clean by a storm), that the backlog of games on some dates has created discussions of some daytime games being played during vacation. This is almost unprecedented.

While sitting here writing this column, my thoughts drifted to how many changes there have been in basketball scheduling over the years. In my good old days, there were bigger crowds all the time. The biggest reason was it was the only game in town.

Way back then 95 percent of all games were played on Tuesday and Friday nights. People might have done their shopping or played Bingo, Crippage, cards or whatever on another night, but those two nights were reserved for basketball and the whole town turned out. However, only the boys played at night.

Unfortunately, the girls were given second-class status and went relatively unnoticed. In Bellows Falls, where I grew up, they packed the gym for the prime time boys’ games. The girls, who were slotted into a 4 p.m. afternoon game time, when the community was still at work, would be very lucky to attract 50 fans. Even more unfortunate is the fact, few people complained about this injustice. It was accepted as the way things were.

In addition, the girls’ game was not played the same way as the boys. There were more restrictions and was a half court game. More girls were allowed to play though; there were six. Pay close attention as I explain the game.

Only four of the girls were allowed to score. The other two were not allowed to pass the midcourt line. Honestly. It was basically a four on four game at both ends of the floor. Two players could only play offense and must stay at the offensive end all the time and two of the players could only play defense and must play at the defensive end of the court at all times. Your two most versatile athletes would be allowed to cross the midcourt line and would compete on both offense and defense.

If you are a thinker and are used to thinking outside of the box, you are already saying, ‘I know players today, female and male, who fit those rolls perfectly.’ The player who can score, but cannot or chooses not to defend, or the player, who is a great defender/rebounder and has trouble scoring. Back then, in the girls’ game, only two of the six players, needed to play at both ends of the floor. Back then, people knew and accepted their rolls much faster.

Looking to spring- The Connecticut River Valley Baseball League is meeting this week and the adult league is likely to have a perfect eight teams this summer. There are likely to be some changes though. Whispers tell us that Newport and Sunapee are unlikely to return, but, the Connecticut Valley Ironmen are coming onboard from the Green Mountain League with hopes the Saxtons River Pirates will join them, if they field a team at all. Here’s hoping they will.

Walpole will still have two teams in the league and they return with the old staples from Putney, Brattleboro, Claremont and Keene. This is the closest thing we all have left to the great days of the old Connecticut Valley League in high school sports and the natural alignment will hopefully be preserved.

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