A year ago if I’d been driving up MacArthur Boulevard with a wintry mix slashing sideways over my windshield on a random Tuesday evening, I probably would have been grumbling. When you’ve covered roughly 1,000 basketball games in your life—I did the math, I think that’s pretty close to accurate—it is easy to take another day at the gym for granted.
This was hardly any other night at the gym. It was the first time in over 10 months that I’d been inside a high school to cover a competitive sporting event. Over the fall there were several soccer games that I watched, but this was the first time I’d been indoors to cover a game since the world became crazier than fiction. It was also the first time that Bourne High School had hosted a sporting event in roughly the same amount of time, as they were shut down from athletics during the fall.
Pulling up to a puddle-filled parking lot up the hill at Bourne High I was quickly reminded that the world isn’t what it used to be. After pushing the lock button on the key fob and making it halfway across the wet tarmac I spun back around to reach into the car to grab a face gaiter.
Walking up the stairs to the gymnasium, I was greeted by the whittled Canalmen statue that oversees the entrance. Along with his traditional seaman’s coat and floppy hat, someone had fastened a face mask over his mouth as a friendly reminder to all who enter that you’ve got to play by the rules if you want to come inside.
Having had to drive a little slower than the norm to get out there because of the weather I was a few minutes tardy entering the building. Bourne had gotten off to a slow start, and its deficit was nearing double digits, though the team fought back mightily to make it close early in the second quarter before things fell apart.
Apponequet was the better team all night long. The Lakers knocked down shots, won the war on the glass and answered every run that Bourne went on.
As the game neared its conclusion I began to ask myself the questions that I always do before interviewing a coach after a game. “What was the reason for the outcome?” “Which players played well?” “Which players were off?” “What was this game’s story?”
Heading into BHS athletic director and head coach Scott Ashworth’s office I began to run through those questions with him, and the obvious followups that came to mind. After running through that stuff we caught up a bit, talking about our common love for pro wrestling and how some of our friends have been doing over the past few months.
Walking back to my car afterward, I was happy to find that the bad weather had receded, and the temperature was a little warmer. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a crappy winter evening, but not nearly as bad as it had been a few hours earlier.
Driving back to Falmouth it hit me just how normal the experience had actually been. Sure, it was weird to see kids running up and down a basketball court with face coverings on, but no weirder than it is seeing people walking down Main Street these days. The only rule change to the game that I think dramatically changed things was the lack or a real halftime.
Instead of a 10-minute break, which usually is closer to 15 or 20 as the teams mill about before starting quarter number three, there was just a quick three-minute hiatus, basically an extended timeout. In the long run I believe that this is going to be a big issue for teams that are trailing. Well-coached teams are able to pause, take stock of the situation and then make adjustments during a normal game. Now everything is on the fly. That’s going to be tough.
Other than that, the game was pretty normal, much more so than soccer or field hockey seemed back in the fall. Everyone did what they were supposed to do and played through it.
At the end of the game, kids on both sides seemed pretty pleased with themselves. Bourne didn’t want to lose, but they won by finally getting to play again.
We all win when we’re back doing the things we love.