Column by BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Tournament time has arrived for high school basketball teams ... in Virginia.
It starts for girls in West Virginia next week, and the boys in the Mountain State the following week.
From Monday to the middle of March, the Daily Telegraph sports staff will be all about basketball, which is basically how it has been since December, other than finishing up football.
Only now the games begin to count more.
We are often quizzed on how crazy and busy it is on Friday nights during the football season, and it is. Meeting a deadline with so many games going on is enough to make you want to scream for — well, basketball season — but then I remember football only goes on for a dozen nights or so a year.
Basketball season is like a Friday night just about every night, especially on Tuesday and Friday, and whatever night the middle schools play, which is seemingly every night of the week. High school coaches will sometimes forget to call in a game, but you can bet the middle schools never do.
It is always a head-scratching venture each week for me to figure out what games get covered each week. There are times when I just look at a long list of games, especially when so many local teams are at home, and just yearn for football season. At least there are no girls football teams.
Every school and team in our coverage area deserves attention — boys and girls — and we try to provide as much as we can. That is why we depend on coaches to report those games that we are unable to attend.
Most are good about it, and for those who aren’t, we can usually find other methods to get those results reported as well. The kids, win or lose, deserve to have their names in the paper.
If you don’t see your team’s results in the paper, let your coaches know. We report the news, but we can’t be everywhere. Make them share with the rest of us.
Some schools think we should be at all of their games, but even though our publication name begins with Bluefield, there are a lot more schools in our coverage area outside of Bluefield, who think they are just as important, and they are correct.
We have a few correspondents or stringers as we call them in the business, that help, and I have added a bunch since I arrived here, but that still isn't enough to get it all covered.
There are moments, sometimes when I am reading my paper while having my morning cereal, that I wonder if there isn't too much basketball this time of year. Yet, what choice do we have. Ask a friend of mine likes to say, 'It is what it is', with so many high school games taking place, not to mention Bluefield, Bluefield State, Concord, West Virginia, Virginia Tech, Marshall and Virginia that need their space too.
And, then there are the dreaded quads — four games in one gym on one night that happens on the Virginia side — and those 9 p.m. starts for the Mountaineers and Hokies provides even more headaches in terms of meeting the all-important deadlines.
Basketball will continue on this week, with tournaments in Virginia being mixed in with regular season games, most of which really don’t matter all that much, in West Virginia. Other than Princeton and the MSAC, there are no conference or district titles at stake in the Mountain State, just seedings in the upcoming sectionals.
On the Virginia side, schools are playing for their seasons. Some will play on into regionals, no matter whether they win or lose in district tourney action, while others will get ready for spring sports.
That won't even matter next year in Virginia when districts as we know them cease to exist. There will be teams placed in regions, similar to the format used in West Virginia.
Until then comes more decisions. Back during fall soccer season, we had three schools involved in sectional championship play. Two schools had two teams each playing each other here in town and one school had one team playing about two hours away.
We had two people working, one who had to be in the office. That left one person to cover either one game two hours away or two games 10 minutes away.
My choice was to get the two schools playing two games here in town. Correspondents are usually willing to help with football and basketball, and maybe baseball, but not much else. There was none available for the other game, which bothered me, but sometimes you have to make the hard choices, and deal with the consequences.
My reward for standing in a cold, driving rain to watch soccer at East River Soccer Complex was to arrive at work still shivering the next day to phone calls and emails complaining about that decision. Sometimes you just can't win.
Those questions will continue in the coming weeks, with tournaments of all kinds scattered throughout the region on both sides of the state line.
Just take a look at this week's list of games. Believe me, I have, and it brings the same issues. Who gets covered and who has to wait until the next time? Will it be boys or girls, do we travel many miles or a few miles, and what is more vital at this very moment.
Every game is important to someone, even if it is regular season vs. postseason.
No wonder my appearance has changed so much in years sitting at this desk.
My girlfriend has long asked me to change the photo that goes with my columns, and I have finally listened. I picked out two. The smiling face that greeted you today was me after an Alabama football game, the other I will use at other times is from a hike in the woods.
Two facts are clear. My hair is grayer and my stomach is larger.
As for the stomach, it comes from working crazy hours and doing my part to keep the local fast food establishments in business.
As for the hair ... see above.
Brian Woodson is the sports editor for the Daily Telegraph. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org