“March Madness” is a good name for basketball tournament time because so many Kentuckians seem to be nuts about the sport.

Whether it’s the NCAA “big dance” or the Sweet 16 high school championships for boys and girls, the annual quest to be the best is epidemic.

My wife and I went to a high school district championship game last week and it was a pleasant step back in time for both of us.

Four adults in our family organized a surprisingly loud alumni cheering section to show high schoolers that you can have an exciting time showing school spirit without constantly fiddling with your electronic device.

The gymnasium was packed and the two pep bands were loud and enthusiastic. The building was plastered with posters and photos. The game atmosphere was pure March Madness.

Fans cheered every play and we didn’t see a single act of poor sportsmanship by a player, cheerleader, coach or spectator from either school.

I was particularly curious about how the crowd would react to the game officials since fan abuse has been cited as the primary reason for the shortage of high school officials in this country.

Recalling my short career as a basketball official while in college, I watched carefully as the three officials kept the game under control.

In the jargon of officiating, they had “good mechanics” in that they correctly patrolled their individual sections of the floor throughout the game.

Sure, we had some routine complaining from fans about calls but nobody threw objects onto the court or tried to mug the officials after the game. Come to think of it, I likely wouldn’t go to a basketball or football game on any level if I didn’t have the right to occasionally heckle the officials.

In their hearts, hardcore basketball fans in Kentucky – like my sister – believe the right to hassle officials is written into the Constitution.

In fact, I suspect she wants them to hear when she yells at her TV each time a call goes against Big Blue.

Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com or by telephone at 356-0912.

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