So I went to the first day of the boy's state tournament on Monday. I wasn't planning on going, but my cousin and family was coming down from NW Iowa to watch it (he's a coach up there) and his wife is my best friend, so I took the day off work and tagged along. I had no real investment in any of the teams. In fact, I didn't even know who was playing. I was just there to watch and chat with Sandy.
It turns out my alma-mater was playing, well sort of. I graduated from Grandview Park Baptist School. That school no longer exists. But when they closed the doors to GPBS, they reopened in a different location as Grandview Christian School. So, I suppose I can kinda sorta call them my alma-mater? Maybe. Either way, I haven't followed their team so I really didn't care who won or lost.
Since it was the first day of the tournament, it was class 1A. Basically the smallest schools in the state. So a lot of teams I've never heard of before. We saw some good games, and some not so good games. Here's what I learned from watching 4 games that day::
1) High school boys are young. I know they're just teenagers, but I don't think I realized how young they are. I swear I was never that young.
2) I watched one team play catch the entire time. They would throw the ball back and forth to each other for about 20 seconds and then someone would shoot a 3-pointer. That was their entire game. Not surprising, the other team figured it out pretty quickly that they team playing catch was a one-trick pony show. And guess what? The pony show lost. Because throwing 3-pointers the entire game and only making about half of them doesn't win a game.
3) There are some hot-heads playing high school basketball. I watched one guy get seriously close to punching a ref more than once. Every time he was called for a foul, he'd raise his hands in the "what'd I do" look and get all up in the refs face. I'm surprised he didn't get kicked out. And then he'd push the other team's players around. Time to find your zen, my friend.
4) I am convinced that the ushers at Wells Fargo Arena got together, figured out what the most ineffectual way of herding the crowds was, and then just did that. It was ridiculous. Sandy and I got up and one point to stretch our legs a bit. We found a table out of the way to just sit and chat until the next game started. An usher came up to us and told us we needed to move. When I asked why, he responded that the current game was going to be letting out soon and the "worst thing that could happen" was for us to sneak in and steal seats while the next game's fans were waiting to be let in. Huh? Worst thing? Worse than the bubonic plague? It got worse. As we were walking back to our seats another usher refused to let us down because it was the rules. What rules? Where did I miss reading rules about sitting? Later, my cousin got up to stretch and was waiting at the top of the stairs for a time out or a break in the action to return to his seat. He didn't want to block anyone's view of the game. Nice gesture, right? Apparently that's not allowed. An usher told him he needed to move. When he asked why? He wasn't in anyone's way and he was just waiting for a good time to head down the stairs, she insisted he move along. So basically, someone in management told these ushers to make everyone as annoyed as possible. Mission accomplished!
5) High school boys make mistakes. These things happen. Refs make mistakes too. There are 3 refs. So that's 3 sets of eyeballs watching 10 guys run around. There are approximately 300 fans in the audience. That's 300 sets of eyeballs. Guess who's at a disadvantage? Lay off the refs. They're doing the best they can. If you think you can do better, go ahead and get your license and do it (ref license? Is that a thing?)
6) I was actually happy with who won the games. Here's why: For a small school in a larger city, there are so many opportunities for sports. For a small school in a small town, this may be their one chance to do something great. You could tell in the stands which school came from money and which didn't. For so many of these parents and fans, they took days off from their jobs to drive a long distance and watch their team play. Winning is a big deal for them. You could see the absolute joy in their faces when their teams would do well.
The NCAA tournament is coming to our town. I'm hoping for some good underdog stories! I always love when smaller schools get put on the map by beating a high ranked team. I'm cool like that. :)