High school basketball season officially began Monday, so this is a good time for area athletic directors, coaches and administrators to start thinking backwards.
It wasn’t too long ago schools were aggressive in promoting their sporting events. Some still do, but unfortunately public awareness of what is going on at the ballgames seems to be of little importance to high schools these days. Teams reschedule games, change game times and postpone games — leaving word of mouth as the sole source of public notification.
It’s almost like, “If the fans come to the games, they come. If they don’t, they don’t.” And if fans don’t come, many schools don’t seem to care whether they know what happened in the game — even if fans had to work, or were ill, or a hundred other reasons for being unable to attend a game.
Too many coaches and administrators won’t take five seconds to lift their cell phone and text a score to the local newspaper — or five seconds to post a score on the internet. Call in the entire box score? Who has three full minutes to do that?
Win or lose, too many of them just don’t care anymore. And that attitude hurts the student-athletes.
These same coaches still ask a lot of their kids, demanding long hours in practice and top-notch performance in games. But when it comes time for part of the payoff — a historical public documentation of their success and hard work — some coaches or administrators apparently have something more pressing to worry about.
High school athletics have gone on for many decades, but things have changed dramatically in terms of costs associated with running these programs. Schools offer so much more than just football, basketball and baseball these days. Girls athletics have more teams, so there is a need for money to support these programs.
It doesn’t take a Wall Street genius to see that if the fan support dwindles, programs will be cut. Fewer games will be played. Good athletes will sit on the couch with a Playstation controller in their hands. Other good athletes will find something else to do — and many times wind up in trouble.
More kids need to be participating in high school athletics, not fewer. The big draw used to be this: It means something to the community. People in this town or that town care.
But when the kids see the coaches don’t even care enough to report the good things to the community, why should playing ball mean anything to them?
At every high school in Northeast Tennessee, there should be at least one person who cares enough to say, “Hey, look what our kids are doing in sports!” And shout it from the mountain top, if necessary.
It’s just like anything else. If you don’t water a plant, it will die. Take care of what we have. Promote high school sports in the public eye and show the kids they are important to us.
n Eight local teams will mix it up when the Hardee’s Classic gets started today at David Crockett’s gym in Jonesborough.
Cherokee and Unaka get things rolling at 4 p.m., followed at 5:30 by Sullivan South and Unicoi County in a rematch of Thursday’s tight Hall of Champions contest. Crockett plays University High at 7, and Daniel Boone meets Sullivan East at 8:30.
Action continues Friday, with the championship set for Saturday at 8:30 p.m.
n Area girls teams will get a few challenges when the Beef O’Brady’s Thanksgiving Classic takes place at Happy Valley’s gym.
Action begins Wednesday with three games, including Daniel Boone versus Happy Valley at 8 p.m.
A couple of nice matchups are set for Friday with Science Hill taking on Cloudland at 1:30 p.m., and Elizabethton playing Daniel Boone at 6 o’clock.
Saturday’s action includes Cloudland playing Elizabethton at 4:30 p.m. For a complete list of games, see the scoreboard page.
n Here’s a look at who is favored and by how much in this week’s semifinal-round football playoff games.
Class 6A — Maryville by 2 over Murfreesboro Riverdale, Mt. Juliet by 7 over Memphis Whitehaven.
Class 5A — Know Powell by 7 over Knox West, Henry County by 2 over Hendersonville.
Class 4A — Greeneville by 14 over Giles County, Nashville Maplewood by 8 over Covington.
Class 3A — Christian Academy of Knoxville by 7 over Austin-East, Milan by 1 over Christ Presbyterian Academy.
Class 2A — Friendship Christian by 17 over Oliver Springs, Adamsville by 4 over Dresden.
Class 1A — South Pittsburg by 4 over Gordonsville, Wayne County by 20 over West Carroll.
n Providence Academy’s basketball season is under way for both the boys and girls teams.
The boys are off to a 2-1 start after Saturday’s 71-28 whipping of North Asheville, N.C. In that win, Maclain Grable totaled 17 points.
The 6-2 guard is one of five seniors on this year’s team. The others are Isaac Farmer (6-2, post), Chance Graham (6-3, post), Kenny Quinn (5-11, guard) and John Steadman (6-3, post).
Next up for the boys is West Greene, a game set for 5:30 p.m. today in the Greene County Tip-Off at North Greene. Included on the boys’ schedule this year are games at Hampton (Dec. 5), Cloudland at home (Dec. 9), at Cloudland (Jan. 17), University high at home (Jan. 20), at University High (Feb. 9) and Hampton at home (Feb. 14).
The boys are coached by Martin Sells and his assistant is Chuck Owens.
As for the girls, they moved to 2-2 with Saturday’s 63-11 pounding of North Asheville. Emily Tumlin led the Lady Knights with 13 points in that victory.
Tumlin is a 5-7 post who is one of two seniors on the team. The other is 5-6 guard Millie Pendola. Natalie Smith (5-9, post) is the team’s only junior.
Mary Margaret Bryan, who had 10 points in Saturday’s win, is a 5-8 sophomore.
Next up for the Lady Knights is a game at North Greene on Nov. 29. They also play the same local teams as the boys.
The girls are coached by Mike Cash, and James Herington is his assistant.
n Prep signings: Daniel Boone has announced another softball signing.
Natalie Sheffey will make it official on Dec. 1 with Union College. Last week, Boone had its first-ever Division I signing in softball when Jennine Duncan joined ETSU’s program.
n Former preps: Greyson Janeway, a former standout at Science Hill, caught his first-ever college touchdown pass in a important moment Saturday.
The 23-yard reception came during Centre College’s 51-41 first-round victory over Hampden-Sydney in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The catch gave Centre a 27-13 second-quarter lead.
It was the first-ever win for Centre (Danville, Ky.) in the Division III playoffs, and the Colonels were making their first postseason appearance since Jan. 2, 1922. That was the year Centre stunned heavily favored Harvard by a score of 6-0 before suffering its only loss against Texas A&M in a postseason game that became the forerunner of the Cotton Bowl. In another historical footnote, that 22-14 win was the game where the Aggies’ “12th man” tradition originated.
According to the Texas A&M website, as the hard-fought game wore on, the Aggies were forced to dig deep into their limited reserves because of injuries. Coach Dana X. Bible remembered that a former squad member, who was playing basketball at the time, was in the press box helping reporters identify players. E. King Gill was called from the stands, suited up, and stood ready throughout the rest of the game.
When the game ended, Gill was the only man left standing on the sidelines for the Aggies. Gill later said, “I wish I could say that I went in and ran for the winning touchdown, but I didn’t. I simply got ready and waited — just in case I was needed.”
Gill came to be known as the “Twelfth Man” because he stood ready in case the 11 men on the gridiron needed him. The tradition took on a new look in the 1980s when head coach Jackie Sherrill started the 12th Man Kickoff Team, composed of regular students through open tryouts. This 12th Man team performed very well and held opponents to one of the lowest yards-per-return averages in the league. Later, head coach R.C. Slocum changed the team to allow only one representative of the 12th Man on the kickoff team.
n It’s really too early to get a good feel for what’s going on in high school basketball, but the Prep Top 10 makes its season debut anyway:
Team W-L Reason
1. Science Hill 3-0 Cupboard not bare
2. Unicoi County 2-0 Good talent mix
3. Sullivan East 3-0 Casaday and company
4. Tennessee High 3-0 Solid all around
5. Dobyns-Bennett 0-0 Always in the mix
6. Sullivan North 0-0 Chase Arnold
7. Elizabethton 0-1 Depth aplenty
8. Daniel Boone 2-0 A little green, but tough
9. David Crockett 2-1 Surprisingly solid
10. Cloudland 0-3 Scrappy, battle tested
n Science Hill is also at the head of the class in the first girls rankings:
Team W-L Reason
1. Science Hill 2-0 Experience and talent
2. Tennessee High 2-0 In same breath as SH
3. Daniel Boone 1-0 Ready to emerge
4. Unicoi County 2-0 Tons of experience
5. Cloudland 2-0 Brooke Rhodes
6. North Greene 1-1 Building off last year
7. Elizabethton 0-2 Still dangerous
8. Volunteer 1-0 Good mix
9. Dobyns-Bennett 0-0 Can’t be overlooked
10. Sullivan East 1-1 Improved