My Pitch

How to make holiday basketball even better


Holiday basketball is one of the oldest traditions in American sports.

It doesn’t matter the level, whether it be youth, high school, college or pros … similar to thanksgiving football, basketball and Christmas go hand in hand. I love the tradition. Any time that we can blend sports with family is great, and it is something that helps further bring people together.

I have very few complaints when it comes to holiday basketball and the tournaments, however, the one complaint I do have is a pretty big one.

In my opinion, these tournaments should count for something.

Obviously, they do at the higher levels, but at the high school level, I don’t see any reason why these games should not count. Last week I swung by a handful of holiday games, and I was somewhat disappointed in the small crowds.

I get it, families have their traditions and most people just want to lay low and relax during the holidays. I totally understand, and I totally share that same desire as the year comes to a close.

That being said, why these teams face each other just for the sake of playing is beyond me. Sometimes these tournaments are for charity, sometimes they are for bragging rights. Both are great, especially the charity tournaments. But if we are going to have these teams devote the time and energy of preparing to play and then actually going through with the games, it should absolutely reflect on their records.

Some teams, like the Cranston East and Pilgrim boys teams, played some of their best basketball to date. Both clubs are in competitive divisions, and each team cruised to 2-0 records during the holidays. I know that I’m being a little tough on the subject, and I’m sure that these teams are just thankful to put on a show and put their best foot forward, but wouldn’t it be even better to see two wins added to the record?

Let’s take it a step further. What if we as fans really talked up these tournaments and made them into must-see events? What if similar to the NBA, we took the best teams from each conference and squared them off all on the same day. We can still put names on the games, get the sponsors, donate to charity, all of that. However, instead of just taking different teams with different skills and backgrounds and putting them in a small tournament, why don’t we just pick the best matchups possible and promote it as one of the best high school sports days of the year?

The only downside I could see would be the conflict with families and their traditions. Ultimately though, this shouldn’t be an issue considering we don’t have games in Rhode Island on Christmas day (which I also support). Therefore, packing a gym to see some of the top clubs in the state should be a relatively easy feat to accomplish.

I get it. The latter half of December is meant for family time, relaxing, taking it easy. So why not go all in one way or the other?

Instead of having these teams continue to work through the holiday season, and instead of making these coaches and athletes get up for an exhibition game, why don’t we either give them the entire two-week break off, or make it into something truly special?

As a sports fan, I vote for the second option here. Let’s give fans something to look forward to during the holiday break, and let’s make it worth these teams’ time. As I said earlier, we can still keep these games sponsored, we can still devote the proceeds to a good cause, we don’t even need to play them on the actual day of the holiday.

Overall though, I love holiday basketball, and would like to see it celebrated to an even greater level.


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