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Are more basketball games a good thing?

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By Larry Goffinet

Is the IHSAA’s decision to allow boys and girls basketball teams to play two more games next season a good thing? That depends on one’s perspective.
Most coaches love it, as coaches’ associations in various sports, including football, wrestling, volleyball and yes, basketball, have petitioned the IHSAA to allow more contests through the years. And eventually the IHSAA seems to agree to their requests.
More games means a better chance to break school records for wins each year, and people seem to look at that more than winning percentage. Jack Butcher’s state record of 806 victories may not be safe.
Of course more games also means a chance for more losses.
For many years IHSAA teams were allowed to play only 20 total games in the regular season. Thus the most games a team could lose in a season was 21 if it went winless in the regular season and lost its first sectional game.
Until consolidations in the late 1960s and early ’70s got rid of a lot of small schools, the loser of the English versus Birdseye game would often go 0-21.
Then in the early 2000s the IHSAA allowed basketball teams to play 18 games and a tourney. If teams played in a tourney where they were guaranteed four games, such as the Toyota Classic or Southern Indiana Athletic Conference tourney, they could play 22 regular-season games.
Tell City’s boys played in the Toyota Classic in the 2002-03 season and went 0-4 in it.
Because of the extra games, the Marksmen probably set a state record with 22 losses that season despite the fact that they won one game (beating Cannelton 62-45 Dec. 17).
Now the IHSAA will allow teams to play 20 games plus a four-game tourney. Thus a team that loses in the first round of the sectional could still play 25 games.
Those in three-game tourneys, such as the PSC Holiday Classic, could play 24 games even if they get bounced from the sectional in the first round.
With the two extra games Perry Central’s boys team has added second matchups with two of its closer rivals, Cannelton and Crawford County.
Crawford County always brings a good crowd, so having the Wolfpack play a game at Perry Central every year instead of just every other year could help Perry Central’s athletic department financially.
Cannelton’s two biggest boys basketball gates are Tell City and Perry Central, so having a home game with Perry Central every year should help the Bulldogs’ finances.
But will having one more home game raise the season’s total attendance for each team?
Or will fans, who aren’t getting increases in their time or budgets for recreational activities, simply attend the same amount of games, which could mean lower attendance for some of the less-than-marquee match-ups?
One reason NFL games draw bigger crowds and higher television ratings than those in other sports is that with NFL teams each playing only 16 games each game means more than ones in other sports.
Perry Central Athletic Director Bob Ransome has always tried to make sure his boys and girls basketball teams do not play at the same time and usually has no other contests at any level going on the same night as a varsity boys game.
With two more boys and girls games, that will be harder to do.
That’s why Ransome said he “wasn’t necessarily for” the extra games. “I think we play enough games.
“It’s really getting tight on scheduling. Teams don’t play on Sundays (per IHSAA rules) and we try not to play on Wednesdays (because many students have religious  activities that night), so that doesn’t leave a lot of nights open (for extra games without scheduling conflicts).”
And think how much harder it will be to reschedule games if several are snowed out.