Clackamas Sophomore Andre Dickson (center, in white) looks to
score during practice on Nov. 21. Dickson had a game high four
steals in last week's season opener verses Linfield University JV.
When I got there, I realized that I'd be staying a lot longer than I planned.
I'd forgotten exactly how much I loved the sport of basketball. Lately I've gotten really in to volleyball and I've always been a soccer lover, but it wasn't until I stepped back on to the basketball court that I remembered how much I've missed it since the season ended so many months ago.
The next few minutes were lost to the squeak of sneakers, the pounding of the ball, the swish of the net and the click of the camera. It's more than easy to be absorbed in the action, it's practically intoxicating.
Then after a few minutes, I came down to earth. I realized that part of the reason I'd missed basketball so much was because there really is less of it now then there was a year ago. Last November, the Rose Garden would pack with 20,000 fans a few times a week to watch the Portland Trailblazers play. This November, the action on ESPN isn't on the court, it's IN court.
That might just be because the NBA isn't just basketball anymore. It's a business. And to be fair, it's a really good business. They attract millions of fans worldwide with their talent and the entertainment that it provides and rake in billions of dollars in ticket sales, TV deals and merchandise.
However, even at the NCAA level, the game can still be muddled by money. You don't have to dig very far before you find a case of a recruiting scandal. The reason for those? Money. Better players means more success, translating to better attendance and increased revenue for the college that the team is affiliated with.
In order to escape that, you might have to go one level down, where money means even less. That's where small college basketball comes in to play. At Clackamas Community College, for example, the stands would seat only about 1000 people if completely full, which they never really are. And that's only if they open up each set of bleachers, something that only happens for graduation.
In a situation like that, the revenue for filling the stands wouldn't be a huge difference in the athletic department's budget. The benefit from having a successful team is simply that they win more. Winning calls the attention of prospective players, feeding the success of the program even further. That's as it should be. The sport is focused on the players, not the coaches, not the fans and certainly not on money. Just basketball.