If You Move It…Will They Come?
Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Fans attending Southside District basketball games this season can see two varsity games in one night. Both the boys and girls varsity squads will play at the same site on the same night.
In the past, the district has kept the girls and boys separate, with both varsity and junior varsity boys teams playing on one night, and the girls teams playing on another.
Some leagues, like the James River District, play their boys and girls teams on the same night, but at opposite locations.
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It is thought that the move by the Southside District should help its girls varsity teams draw more fans, and as an added bonus, get better officials.
It's also a welcome change for newspaper reporters, who often feel they need to be in two places at once. But sportswriters, as they should be, are near to the bottom when it comes to analyzing the benefits against the costs of such a move.
Some may feel the change moves the varsity girls to the undercard. That's a legitimate concern.
There also may be a temptation to switch-up the start times occasionally, moving the start of the boys game to 6 p.m., with the girls game to start afterward.
It's one of those ideas that looks good on paper. For those who remember Longwood's Division II CVAC days, of women's/men's doubleheaders, can also remember that this was sometimes tried. However, it produced an unintended consequence.
People showed up for the men's game, but managed to come up with something else to do in the 20 minutes between the end of the men's game and the start of the women's contest.
Seeing a full house empty just before the second game starts, sets the wrong tone for the home team. Seeing a venue fill up with hundreds of home team fans as the game goes on, does just the opposite.
Last Wednesday, the Lady Eagles ran their record to 4-0 with a convincing 69-34 victory over Park View.
Fans that showed up just in time for the boys game, missed out on seeing a totally dominating first quarter performance.
The Lady Eagles shut out their opponents in the first quarter, and scored the first 22 points of the contest.
By the end of the game, a healthy crowd for a Wednesday night, applauded the home team's efforts – even though they really just saw two teams playing the remainder of a game that was decided about 45 minutes earlier.
Though the game was basically over, the Lady Eagles finished strong – even with the starters on the bench.
It's safe to assume, if it were a close game, the steadily increasing crowd would've been a big boost.
Still, one has to wonder what would've happened if it were a close game, but everyone was heading for the exits, or had already gone home after the boys game? Those concerns should probably be enough to keep the girls games starting at 6 p.m.
One thing the area can be proud of, is that it has shown it will turn out for girls basketball, when it's played on a high level. People want to see a winner.
The Lady Eagles have gotten off to a great start. If they keep winning, it will be interesting to see if crowds start to arrive earlier in the night.
At least in Farmville, that will dictate the size of the crowd more than when and where the game is played.
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It almost seems like football season never ended in the Southside District. Last Wednesday's SSD boys basketball game between Prince Edward and Park View was as physical as a game on the gridiron.
By the time the game was over, PE senior guard Darius Ford had a bandaged gash over his eye, and Djuan Wilburn was trying to control swelling in his hand after it apparently got stepped on. Players on both teams appeared to be nursing some bumps and bruises. Even the ones who never left the bench.
What looks rough to an outsider, is just seen as another night in the Southside District. It's what makes the district one of, if not the toughest, Group AA leagues in the state.
One has to wonder, however, if the strong play that's allowed in the regular season has cost Southside teams in the playoffs.
Whether it does or doesn't, last Wednesday's game gave fans a playoff-intensity feel in mid-December.