Compromise reached in times of the games for both boys and girls
By DAN BYRNE
WAKEFIELD — The return of the girls and boys doubleheader format in Middlesex League basketball has been talked about since the switch away from it happened a few years ago and now the doubleheaders are back on for the 2014-15 season
Initially the claim was made by a girls’ basketball advocate from Lexington that the doubleheader format was discriminatory in nature because most of the time the girls’ games were scheduled at 5:30 p.m. and the boys’ contests at 7 p.m. in prime time.
However, since breaking up the doubleheader format a couple of seasons ago, attendance has been down across the board, specifically at girls’ games.
This trend led to a discussion heading into this season. A compromise was reached to have the return of the doubleheaders. The boys and girls each get eight games at the 5:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. time slot. In the first half of the season the girls will be the featured event, tipping off at 7 p.m. with the boys’ game as the opening act at 5:30 p.m. This will reverse in the second half of the season.
From Wakefield High’s perspective, it makes sense because now the school only needs to hire janitorial staff one night per week, as opposed to two nights. Attendance numbers have been down on both sides since the switch away from doubleheaders a couple of years ago and the outlook for this year’s draw doesn’t appear very strong despite their return. Hopefully the prospect of two for the price of one to go cheer on the Wakefield Warriors’ basketball teams will entice some folks who otherwise would go somewhere else on a Friday night.
The way the format for this Friday night is, JV boys will play at 4 p.m., varsity boys at 5:30 p.m. and varsity girls at 7 p.m. The track team has practice until 4 p.m., so the JV girls will go on the road with the freshmen. Later in the season, the JV boys will go on the road.
As for Coach Brad Simpson and Coach Meghan O’Connell, they both feel there are some positives from playing doubleheaders.
“Everyone is excited that they’re back. It’s great that the girls can cheer the boys on and the boys can cheer the girls on. There’s more of that community feeling, (this) Friday night the school can come see both teams play. There’s just an air of excitement around that,” O’Connell said.
Simpson feels the kids will enjoy the doubleheader format as well but sees some potential drawbacks as well.
“I think it’s great for the kids,” said Simpson “It’s a wonderful thing for the camaraderie between the girls’ and boys’ teams. They get to see each other play a little bit, root each other on. I think for the players that it’s great, they can kind of sit in the stands and root each other on and watch them play.”
On the potential drawbacks, the boys coach mentioned the difficulty it may cause when moving fringe players up and down from JV to varsity. There will be no swinging of periods, so to speak.
“It’s not ideal for the coaches because they like to see their younger players, their JV players, to evaluate them and watch them so we won’t have that opportunity. It will limit how, sometimes, if there’s an underclassman on the varsity who projects not to play a lot or not play then you can send them to the JV game for a couple of periods. Now you can’t do that. If they’re on the road and we’re at home either they sit on the varsity bench or they go with the JV.”
Coach Simpson is not worried that he’ll run into much trouble with his bench depth, “I have 13 varsity players. I don’t foresee, this is a year where we probably wouldn’t have done much of that anyhow.”