There are several changes we’d like to see at the high school basketball venues. It speaks to giving the players and teams some breathing room, rather than having fans literally breathing down their necks. Now, of course, this isn’t going to be able to be implemented at every school, but at a vast majority, it’s a simple change that can make a big difference for everyone.
Just like in volleyball, only half the gym should be used for fans. One half of the gymnasium should be set up with one row of chairs for the players and coaches. Facing them across the gymnasium would be one set of bleachers marked Home and Away. I’ve counted the fans at many of the schools’ basketball games and it’s a complete waste to have both full sets of bleachers available. With less than 75 people sitting in the stands, this could be an easy fix. It’s also going to give the officials, school administrators and trainers working space.
At most high schools, there is literally not even enough room to set a size eight shoe between the base of the bleachers and the live floor area. Fans wander aimlessly past officials trying to keep their eyes on the action, stepping out onto the live floor area. School administrators spend half the night turning people back when they try to shortcut across the gym floor to get to the concessions area, leaving slick spots for the officials and players. It’s like herding cats.
Basketball, unlike many of the other sports, does not have the luxury of real estate. Football has the track, a grass area, a fence and then the bleachers separating the fans from the players and officials. Soccer doesn’t have a fence, but does have designated areas for fans and the players and coaches are across the field. Volleyball, as I already detailed, often uses the half-gym set up.
We, in the media, like the half-gym setup because it gives us a lot more room to roam to get the action photos. The two-bleacher setup limits our working office space and safety regulations implemented by schools has further limited that over the past couple of seasons.
I know the officials like having the extra room, too, because they don’t have eyes in the back of their head and it’s hard to concentrate on what’s in front of you, while tuning out the shouting and noise literally at your right lapel.
Change is hard, as we all know. I just think a new setup can only help everyone involved on basketball nights.
While we’re on the topic of changes, we’d also ask that at the upcoming volleyball districts and then coming into basketball season, please don’t rush the floor. We hear the schools announce that everyone should stay in the stands so the award presentations can happen, and to allow the yearbook staff and the media to get those once-in-alifetime team trophy shots. That goes largely ignored and makes everyone’s job very difficult. Parents and fans, anyone with a cell phone, storm the floor and it becomes a giant cluster. This is a moment for those players to celebrate with their coaches and school administrators. It’s something every yearbook staff and numerous media outlets, including ours, wants to capture without literally, everyone and their mother in the frame. It matters to the kids, and it matters to us.
And, if you’re a fan in the bleachers and an opposing teams’ player ends up in the your lap, please don’t grab the kid by the jersey, don’t yell in his face and please refrain from unsportsmanlike gestures and comments directed at them and the referees.