Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Column: Unfriendly confines of Viking gym

December 21, 2006

In case you haven't seen it, try to imagine a gymnasium from the hit movie "Back to the Future."

I don't mean from the 1980s when the movie was made. I mean a gym from the 1950s, the destination of Michael J. Fox's character.

It is a round-shaped gym, resembling a dome that you might see in a college basketball game, but much smaller and uglier.

Oh, did I forget to mention that the gym is basically out in the middle of nowhere? It's located in a field about three miles east of U.S. Highway 59. I know there are worse places in other areas of the state, but this place is a rare spectacle in northeast Kansas.

Did you figure out where I am talking about? Of course, I am describing the Central Heights gym. I traveled there Friday for the second time in my life and I'm glad I probably won't be going back anytime in the near future.

When I first started here, I went to cover basketball games down there and noticed how strange it was. But, it wasn't until Friday night that it really soaked into my head.

I had an idea of what to anticipate, but the second trip really opened my eyes. The gym itself is circular, like a dome, and has a rounded shape top. Most gyms are rectangular or square in shape, but the dome shape would be tolerable if not for one thing.

The bleachers follow the contour of the gym, meaning they are also rounded. A front-row seat can put someone approximately 15 feet away from the court, if you sit near mid-court. This is absurd.

Fans and students love sitting front row for a reason, but the closest one can get to the court is sitting near the corner. Or one can stand behind the goals on a ramp that exits to the school.

It has to be distracting to have people right behind the goal you are shooting at. I know collegiate players deal with it, but prep sports are different.

Another downfall to the gym is the scoreboard. It is hung above the court, which is common to many arenas or larger gyms. At first it seems like a great thing. That is until you think about it.

There are no other scoreboards or clocks on the walls in the gym. This makes it hard for a player to know how much time is left or what the score might be. I even saw one Central Heights player look above him to see the time, but he had to move around just to get a good view.

I began to laugh, because even the Vikings' players have trouble with the scoreboard.

The other problem is only a concern when a long pass or shot is needed. The scoreboard hangs rather low from the ceiling that isn't very tall. If someone ever needed to throw a lengthy pass or shot down the court, the ball might hit the scoreboard.

All of these problems are good enough reasons to never play down there again. I don't know if that will happen for Baldwin teams, but it might.

Central Heights is one of the four teams leaving the Frontier League after this year. Hopefully, that means Baldwin won't be traveling to the "CH Dome" anymore.

I would gladly have the Vikings come play in the "pit" gym in Baldwin Junior High School. I will be there on Jan. 2 to take on Paola.

Go Bulldogs.

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