Tonight's game should be outstanding, but let's keep it in perspective
An enduring lesson on perspective came once from Geno Auriemma, who said they spelled his last name wrong on his first Final Four ring. Geno cracked, “See? No matter how great you think you are, there’s billions of people who just don’t give a (hoot).”
Geno’s words resonate today, at least in my cluttered mind, when I process my excitement for Thursday night’s high school basketball game between East Lyme and Waterford.
We’re streaming it live on theday.com.
The “X,” otherwise known as the 1,800-seat Francis X. Sweeney Fieldhouse at Waterford High, may be sold out. Some folks this week have inquired about presale tickets and the need to arrive no later than 5:30 just to make sure they get a seat.
The game has two properties every juicy sporting event needs: star power and rivalry. East Lyme and Waterford share history that stretches many years. And now each school has a player you’d pay to watch: Dev Ostrowski (East Lyme) and Mikey Buscetto (Waterford).
And yet I wonder: When is it too much?
It’s worrisome — at least to me — that two high school kids will walk into a gym with at least the potential to feel the burdens and pressures of star power. It is both a compliment and a curse. And because we play a role in this — streaming the game to anyone in the world who wants to watch it, hyping it on social media and then covering it online and in the paper — we invite any number of social commentators to unburden themselves about the virtues and failings of high school kids.
And I think back to Geno.
Rivalry, a full gym and dueling student sections have sex appeal, sure. But it’s still a high school basketball game. There’s billions of people who just don’t give a (hoot).
Maybe that’s why I hope the kids remember this much tonight: You’ll be lucky to be in that place at that time. So be smart enough to enjoy it. Have fun. This is for win or lose, not life or death.
Maybe the adults can gulp a Xanax or two as well. Either when you are watching live or if inclined to file a full report in the comments section. Notez bien: This is a bunch of high school kids. Not professionals who are paid handsomely to entertain the musings of paying customers. High school kids. Perspective.
Again: Don’t think I don’t understand the role we bear here. This whole GameDay idea — and we are very thankful for all the kind words from everybody — nonetheless gives pause. Giving the games our kids play a visual medium, sort of like ESPN Light, adds legitimacy to the events, sure. It’s just that the people playing, coaches coaching and officials tweeting are regular Jimmys, Janes and Joes, just like everybody else.
This is the most anticipated GameDay event we’ve had in the seven years doing this. What began with a game from Kris Dunn’s senior year — New London vs. St. Joseph in Bridgeport — has morphed into the most fun we could possibly have streaming numerous games and events in all three seasons.
Casey O’Neill and Keith O’Brien have a deft touch as a broadcast team. Peter Huoppi somehow makes it all sing. Tim Cook and Carlos Virgen, among others, keep cameras steady in sometimes compromising positions in various fields and gyms. Good people who — trust me here — aren’t getting rich off this.
Not many — if any — other newspapers in the country are doing what we are. It’s an honor to be part of trend setting. But it also comes with a need to channel our inner Geno, remembering that we may care a whole lot around here, but billions of people in Asia probably don’t.
So have a blast tonight, Mikey and Dev. Luke and Liam. If you can’t get to the game, fire up the gadget of your choice and follow along. Glad for your interest. Let’s just remember what we’re watching. And who’s playing, coaching and officiating.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro
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