After reading a great deal about the continued controversy over the must-play rule in the Central Blair Recreation Commission basketball program, I felt the necessity to give some input as a volunteer who has spent 15 years coaching in the CBRC ranks for several different schools.
Initially, hats off must be given to Dan Smith, CBRC program director, for his ability to juggle all the responsibilities in running this league. He must not only make certain that all rosters are done correctly and contain eligible players, but he also must meet with coaches to review all league rules prior to the start of the season.
Additionally, he must deal with coaches who are distraught with referees, referees who no longer want to put up with the harassment from fans and coaches for the meager pay they receive, and parents who are unhappy with both coaches and referees. It is up to Smith to keep a delicate balance among all parties and keep the league running smoothly, which he has done well for numerous years.
As for the must-play rule in the CBRC basketball playoffs, several factors must be considered. There is an instructional program available to all second- and third-graders in the school district where no standings or scores are kept and coaches are allowed on the court to help with game instruction. The emphasis in these games is purely on learning fundamentals and having a good time. I can tell you from past experience that in the fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-grade levels the stands are packed with parents, grandparents and friends all are very concerned about winning and losing games.
No team wants to drop a game at this level, and coaches do everything possible to get all players maximum playing time and balance that with putting a competitive team on the floor.
The other issue which no one has mentioned is that game time is show time for everything the students have worked and drilled in practice. Some schools will allow teams to practice as many days a week as they wish. Other principals are very strict about how many hours players and teams are allowed to practice. I have experienced this at several different schools, and there is no continuity to this rule. It primarily depends on the school's athletic chairperson, principal or PTO.
There are those who feel strongly that the competition aspect should not even enter into the picture until junior high school. With players participating in other highly competitive leagues at The Summit, the Jewish Memorial Center and other venues, I don't think this is a reality.
I believe the CBRC has adopted a very equitable policy in making certain that players of any talent level get playing time and experience throughout the course of the season. To have a must-play rule in all playoff games would also serve as an unfair advantage for many teams.
One team may have seven players on their bench while the opposing team in the playoff game may have 15 players on their bench. If a must-play rule is in existence, this is an incredible hurdle to the team with 15 players to attempt to overcome. If people believe this rule must be in effect, then they must find a better way to level the playing field.
Elementary basketball should be about an enjoyable experience for all players involved. This can be assured by how fans, coaches, and parents handle the players and the game. The idea of erasing the competitive aspect of the game is not a reality and cannot be eliminated even at the elementary school level.
Let's hope common sense and the student-athletes well being is the primary consideration for everyone involved with the players and the league.
Tribute to late brother
The Pennsylvania Cable Network began televising all the state championship basketball games in 1999.
Prior to that time WPSX, the PBS station in Clearfield, would televise championship games if there were sponsors to pay for the telecasts.
When Williamsburg's girls played in title games in 1995 and 1997, WPSX televised the games. However, in 1998 Bishop Carroll reached the final, and there were not enough sponsors.
A Williamsburg alumnus stepped forward and was among the significant contributors to have the game televised. He would not permit WPSX to divulge his identify, other than to say he was a graduate of Williamsburg.
Several years later, I learned the identity of the anonymous sponsor. He swore me to secrecy for as long as he lived. On Dec. 19, 2009 my brother, Lynn Kent Showalter, died, and I was released from my obligation. He was the donor.
Kent suffered a pinched spinal cord that resulted in paralysis from the waist down after an auto accident in 1959 when he was 16.
He would likely have been a member of the Williamsburg High School boys basketball team that played for the state title in 1961. Instead he played for the Johnstown Wheelers and was selected to represent the USA in the Wheelchair Olympics although he wasn't able to participate due to a serious infection.
He had a very strong belief in fair play and equal opportunity that only grew stronger through the years. He co-founded a local group called "Barrier Busters" who worked tirelessly for equal access for the disabled.
He continued to hunt and fish and succeeded in gaining better access for the disabled at Lake Raystown. In 1978, he was chosen "Handicapped Pennsylvanian of the Year" and was presented the award by Altoona Mayor William Stouffer and Governor Milton Shapp.
So it should come as no surprise to those who knew him that Kent was Bishop Carroll's benefactor that year. Now you know.
Bring big hockey arena to Lakemont
I read the story in the May 23 Mirror about Boyertown and the plans at Lakemont Park 25 years ago. I?know a 4,000-seat arena for hockey was not intended, but I think that would have made Lakemont Park the Hershey of western Pennsylvania.
Building a hockey arena to go with Blair County Ballpark would make us even better than Hershey. It would bring a Pittsburgh Penguins' farm team to Blair County so let's finish the final piece of the puzzle.