I ‘m closet sports basketball junkie. I can hide my need for sports action pretty well most of the time. But the Olympics are like a two-week endless buffet for sports fans like me. From opening ceremony to the last medal it doesn’t’ get much better than that. I know I have things to do, but at this time of the year I really do need my daily fix of ESPN. I have been known to watch games or even just the box score updates on my laptop. Some people even get updates on their cell phone. I know I am not alone. Hang out at Tipper’s, Skyway, or any other Put-in-Bay Restaurant and you will notice other folks with a similar affliction. The large TV’s with sports, even just highlights are like eye candy.
You’ll notice our eyes darting from the person we are talking to back over to the TV. Go to any bar or Put-in-Bay Restaurant and we are looking for the best angle from a booth or table so that the TV is just off the view line of the person we are with. Seriously.
My wife has caught me staring at a score update because the game I wanted to see was not on locally. Thank goodness for those score updates at the bottom of the screen! If you love sports, this past month has been one of the most satisfying in years. On top of the amazing stories that came from the Olympics, the Colts beat the Jets, and then the Saints fulfilled every Cleveland Browns’ fan fantasy of being worst to first when the Saints defeated the favored Colts and won the Super Bowl. But none of that topped our local Put-In Bay School basketball season. No question this year, the best sports story was right here in Put-in-Bay and the basketball teams.
Lets start with the important news; the boys basketball team went from 1 and something last year to eight and five this year. And the girls basketball team went undefeated their first nine games. Our players and coaches were featured on the local TV news and regional newspapers; they even had their Mackinac Island game broadcast on Internet radio. The fans went from dutiful parents showing up every week to a loud and boisterous cheering section of Panther Basketball Fans. In fact, in one game the ref remarked to me (with a smile) that he was going to have to respond to the fans “opinions” if they kept sharing their views so vocally!
For me this basketball season provided the most satisfaction I can remember as a sports fan ever. Being the scorekeeper for the Put-in-Bay school basketball teams was pure joy. The fun of scorekeeping is that you get to actively be involved in the flow of the game and contribute to the overall fan appreciation. I have to admit that in some of the more anxious moments it is really a struggle to remember to mind the scoreboard, watch the clock, and flip the possession arrow. You just find yourself getting really involved in the game. In one of the girls home “barn burner” games I may have forgotten to run the clock after a critical free throw for a few seconds. Luckily the ref was “helpful” in correcting the situation. And I need to tell you this sports fan thing is not limited to just guys. I shared duties with two Moms that did statistics (Jane Market and Kelly Mohn). I can tell you that they were twice as excited and just as involved if not more than me in the flow of every game.
We would often need to have short conferences to discuss points, was that a two or a three and should we switch the possession arrow. Everyone was watching the game and that is not just fun that is pure adrenalin flowing. If you were there I know you felt it too. Competitive sports, in such a small population, are really rare. A coach from one of the visiting teams remarked that his school had twice the number of students in their high school than we have in the entire school, and he felt lucky to have eight players on his team. (Both our varsities had twelve-plus kids.) We have families of players, from kindergarten to seniors, generations of parents and kids that share in the joy of sports. But none of this would be possible without the sincere love and interest of our coaches. From Susan Harrington’s All-Star program to the varsity teams of Craig Schuffenecker and Steve Poe there is joy in Panther-ville basketball again. And now I have to go, The Put-in-Bay Archery Team is heading out to Columbus and it’s March Madness time too, Go Bucks.