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    Thursday, June 08, 2023

    Lancers will be playing to the breakfast crowd at Neon Uncasville ... come on, now

    News item: The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, the state’s governing body of high school athletics, has designated a game time of 10:30 Sunday morning for Waterford and Avon to play for the Division III championship at Mohegan Sun Arena.

    Praise the Lord and pass the basketball.

    Or, you know, don’t praise Him at all.

    Because how can you when you’re at a game?

    Hard to know where to begin here.

    The shortsightedness of making the well-followed local team play the least desirable game time of championship weekend?

    Making the kids from Avon board a bus at 7:30 on a Sunday morning for an hour-plus ride to play the biggest game of their lives?

    Disrupting church and family time for the sake of a basketball game?

    Not playing the game on Sunday night because Monday is a school day, thus implying that sleep trumps spirituality?

    There’s a reason The Commodores used the lyric “easy like Sunday morning.” Because the words fit. Sunday mornings are supposed to be easy. Not time to play a state championship basketball game.

    Sorry. I don’t get this. And perhaps in a quieter moment — maybe like a Sunday morning — officials from the CIAC can rethink this so it doesn’t happen next year.

    This much we know. The CIAC has a logistical issue. Mohegan Sun Arena is available for two days during championship weekend: Saturday and Sunday. It must cram nine games — one more than last year due to a realigned boys' tournament — into two days. Saturday’s games go at 10, 12:30, 3, 6:15 and 8:30. Sunday: 10:30, 1, 3:30 and 6.

    I don’t understand why Sunday’s schedule can’t be pushed into the afternoon, at least allowing families who are so inclined to pursue Sunday services. Would a schedule of 12:30, 3, 5:30 and 8 scar anyone for life? True, the participants in the Sunday night game would get home late. But kids play most of their games at night, tend to stay up fairly late anyway and — again — would be allowed the sanctity of Sunday morning.

    I mean, East Lyme and Bunnell didn’t start their first-round tournament game last week until after 8 p.m. because of an officiating snafu. The game ended a little after 9:30. The Bunnell kids had a long ride home to Stratford. This just in: They all survived.

    The same logic can’t apply to a one-time state championship game?

    Eight o’clock on Sunday night isn’t more appealing for a sporting event than 10:30 Sunday morning?

    Could we inquire as to whether they’d perhaps move one game to Monday night on the theory the arena is likely to be dark on a Monday night in March anyway? It would require one less game for the Sunday schedule.

    And the idea that they’d sentence the tournament’s largest draw to the worst time slot is somewhere between disrespectful and absurd. Why are they doing it? Because Waterford people are going to show regardless. This is a way of getting butts in the seats in the least desirable time slot, thereby ensuring the coffers stay full.

    It’s just that local schools have always justified their Saturday night time slots at Mohegan Sun with some of the tournament’s best crowds. To wit:

    In 2011, Kris Dunn and New London High played the Class L championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday. The Whalers were going for — and achieved — an undefeated season. Crowd: 9,566, a sellout.

    In 2012, Waterford sought its first state championship and played late Saturday afternoon. Crowd: 7,000.

    Last year, New London set a tournament attendance record in girls’ basketball drawing nearly 8,200 in the Class LL final on Saturday night.

    Now there’s the Lancers of 2018. They’ve played before more than 1,000 fans six different times this season. They’ve set ratings records on theday.com. Heck, we reached out via social media during Wednesday night’s semifinals to inquire the whereabouts of viewers. Answers: as far away as Seattle, Myrtle Beach and a truck stop in Florida.

    And so here’s this team with a large following and dynamic player, Mikey Buscetto, which gets to play the first Sunday morning championship game in state history. (The morning after St. Patty’s Day, no less).

    It’s like ESPN opting to show the seventh game of the World Series between the Yankees and Cubs at noon on a Tuesday.

    Maybe I’m more sensitive to this than Joe Average Columnist. But I’ve become more spiritual in the past year or so. Do I get to mass every Sunday? Nope. But that’s the goal. As is the case with a good many others. And to have that interrupted for all the reasons given is just not acceptable.

    See y’all Sunday morning in Neon Uncasville.

    Know any good places there for breakfast?

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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