The holidays are over, the decorations are down, and my annual mid-winter malaise has set in.
OK, we haven't had much of a winter, what with the lack of snow and cold (not complaining), but I've got the January doldrums just the same. Add the fact that I'm trying to carve off a bit of my mid-section excess, and you'll understand if I'm not my usual smiling self these days.
Thankfully, there are a couple rays of sunshine in next week's forecast to pierce the gray clouds, with the Porter County and Greater South Shore conferences holding their annual basketball tournaments.
If you love hoops, it's arguably as good as it gets. If I had the time off, I just might spend every night catching a serious case of bleacher butt.
It's not quite the finality of the post-season, yet it gives coaches and players a taste of what it's going to be like come sectional time. What's even better, particularly in the case of the PCC, is the congregation of rival schools, many of them within close geographic proximity of its each other.
You just feel like you're walking into a scene from "Hoosiers". The respective communities flip on the porch light, put the door key under the mat and head out to back their school. Whether they're a heavy favorite or a decisive underdog, it's a perfect opportunity to express your community pride and spirit, an element that sadly seems to be lacking in a lot of high school gyms any more. Even if your team doesn't win, you have a chance to be a part of the best cheering section by being the most enthusiastic fans. Can't beat that.
Kerrie Schludecker experienced the GSSC tourney while she was the athletic director at Marquette. Now the A.D. at Boone Grove, she's getting a first-hand look at the granddaddy of them all, as the school prepares to host the 90th annual boys PCC tourney.
"It's really all about bragging rights," Schludecker said. "All these kids know each other. They've been playing against each other since middle school."
As always, PCC festivities tipped off Sunday with the sportsmanship banquet, where the teams gather for a dinner and hear the announcement of the draw.
"It's a very tradition-filled week," Schludecker said. "All the ADs in the PCC are like a little team, and I asked a lot of them what was important to them to make sure I hit on all the big components. I wanted to touch on the fan side, the coach side, the administrative side, find out what makes it so special to them so we can bring it all together in a fun atmosphere."
While the PCC has a one-and-done format, the GSSC includes a consolation bracket so teams who lose in the first round aren't left idle for the balance of the week. The GSSC also uses the occasion to raise funds for cancer research. Fans at all games will have the opportunity to donate money to the Coaches vs. Cancer program.
Next year, the Duneland Athletic Conference will get with the program and hold a pair of four-team tourneys, divided east and west. It would've been better to bring everybody together, but at least it's an improvement.
Now stock up on those throat lozenges and go support your school. Loudly.
This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at email@example.com.