Why can't local hoops teams get this kind of support
Published 4:27 am Wednesday, January 24, 2007
By BY BRUCE HIXON – SPORTS EDITOR
Without a doubt the largest crowd ever to see a basketball game in the five-year history of the new T.R. Miller gymnasium jammed its way into the facility to watch the Harlem Ambassadors take on the Habitat Hammers Saturday. Not a seat was to be had and spectators took up nearly every available inch of standing room.
The full house made for a tremendous atmosphere in addition to an evening of entertainment, laughs and joys the Ambassadors and Hammers provided.
Most important from the game is the funds generated went to a worthy cause, the Greater Brewton Habitat for Humanity.
While it was wonderful to see so many show up and support the event, the full house also brings up another interesting topic. Why can't the community support their local high school basketball teams the same way?
I've seen game after game for not only this season, but ever since I arrived here in 2003 where the T.R. Miller and W.S. Neal High School basketball teams struggle to get a couple of hundred people in the stands. I've seen a number of games where there may not have been 100 people present.
It's a pretty well known fact in sports winning helps increase the crowd size. While the W.S. Neal boys and girls have struggled in this area in recent years, the same cannot be said at T.R. Miller.
Girls coach Ron Jackson has led the Lady Tigers to three state championships in the last 12 years and usually has the team knocking on the door of a state tournament berth just about every year. While the Lady Tigers are in a bit of a youthful and rebuilding phase this year, they've still compiled a solid 9-7 record and are in the running for the Class 4A Area 2 regular season championship headed into Friday's showdown at Andalusia.
Boys coach Rob Atkinson and the Tigers are enjoying their best season in several years. T.R. Miller currently has a 12-4 record, compiled a six-game winning streak, a No. 8 ranking in the Class 4A state polls, first place in Class 4A Area 2 and an Escambia County Tournament championship won-on-the court (later awarded to Flomaton due to a forfeit by Escambia County) to its credit. Yet if you judge success by crowd size, one would guess this team is 4-12 instead of 12-4.
No one will argue the fact this is a football community. Always has been. Always will. That's fine.
It's also fine to show support for the other school teams and let them know you're behind them as well. Don't just show up between September and late
November/early December and go back into hibernation for another nine months. These other athletes need your support as well and if Saturday's full house for the basketball game between the Ambassadors and Hammers is any example, there is plenty of room in the hearts of area residents to support it.