May 28, 2024
Sports Column

Basketball change looming Private schools may need separate division

It must be high school basketball season, I’m thinking, because announcers Dale Duff and Bruce Anderson are on my radio at AM 620 WZON, broadcasting the local boys hoop game between Bangor High and Hampden Academy.

Hmmm… with the snow and the cold weather, is it winter already?

Duff, arguably, the voice of high school sports in the state’s eastern region, has taken his rightful place at the top of any list I’d make as the number one guy on the radio dial for all this hoopla.

But there may be a different twist to the basketball extravaganza as the weeks fly by and we head toward high school tournament action.

The thought occurred to me the other day as my wife Shelly and I made our way home from the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner in Sangerville – you know, over the river and through the woods – that the sports world in Maine, including hoops at the high school level, at least, could be changing.

Triggered by the number of dormitories popping up at semi-private school campuses such as Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft and Washington Academy in East Machias, this column comes today as a precursor or warning, if you will, of what the Maine Principals’ Association may have to do to level the playing field for postseason sports – including basketball – in the postseason for tournament play.

Research indicates that these students are arriving in the state at about $30,000 a pop for tuition, room and board, and food. Factor into that equation this: Many of these students bring a plethora of skills with them. Some are math whizzes. Others are excellent musicians. While others are foreign language experts.

Problem is, some of these kids are also outstanding athletes.

Why is athletic ability a problem, you’re asking?

It’s not, at least until the differentiation between being in a MPA-sponsored school unlevels the playing field for public schools to the point of changing the landscape of tournament play.

I know enough about the ins and the outs of the behind-the-scenes stuff such as recruiting and coaching to make a bold statement like this: The MPA needs to be prepared to keep an eye on the landscape of dormitory filling to ensure that none of these students are here specifically to play a certain sport such as basketball.

With young people coming from as far away as China to improve themselves, I think it’s time to strongly consider a private school postseason basketball tournament for institutions who are hiding behind their semi-private status to improve their school’s chances of success in sports.

Oh, I can hear the critics out there, which is fine. Remember, I coached. I’m used to criticism.

In the end, this is about money. In the interim, my suggestion is this: If it takes a private school high school postseason tournament to level the playing field, then I’m all for that.

This year, the MPA’s guard is already up. I’m hearing whispers, coming out of Augusta, that several schools have already heard cautionary words about some of the aforementioned stuff.

Still, where will it all end?

Probably in stricter roster guidelines for MPA-participating schools for starters, that’s where.

Yes, it’s high school hoops again. But this year, guys like Dale Duff and Bruce Anderson may have to put a little more time in on pre-game pronunciation preparation for participants.

30-Second Time Out

After watching a rerun of “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” I couldn’t help thinking about the game of pool. After all, when Uncle Phil, played by James Avery, bails out Will Smith at a pool hall by out-hustling a local hustler, I was reminded of the time my dad did the same thing for me.

Locally, teams out of Bangor perform in the American Pool Players’ Association-sponsored leagues at such places as Jus 4 Fun, The Sports Arena, Raena’s Pub, and the Eagles Club.

This sport is growing by leaps and bounds, according to participant Tracy Smith., who fires a mean game of nine-ball during the winter months.

Hey, Santa, think that bumper pool table would fit down my chimney?

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