The high school basketball tourney is a cultural phenomenon. It transcends its status as just a local sporting event. Locals live for it. People who move here from away get it quickly.
Tourney week as a whole has evolved. The uniforms, style of play, classes, venues and media coverage have all changed. But the appeal and the legend continue to grow.
The tourney is unique a melting pot of Pine Tree State humanity. Current students and recent grads mingle with parents of players and adults of all ages, unified as one cheering for their team and basking in community pride.
Attendance, especially in Bangor, remains strong at more than 40,000 people per year. The economic impact on the region is second to only to that of the Waterfront Concerts.
While there are fewer radio stations on hand and there are fewer games on TV, internet streaming numbers are huge! Theres as much interest today as ever. How many things can you say that about?
I remember the first time I came. Do you? It was 1984. I haven’t missed many since. I have announced dozens of games on the radio and shot a room full of hilites for TV.
But my best memories are like yours, being a fan and cheering for my alma mater.
My mom is in an assisted living facility. Her memory is failing. But she remembered to ask me the other day if MDI would be in the tourney.
One one her friends there is in her 80’s. She wouldn’t miss a Woodland game at the Cross Center. She goes every year.
My friends dad was approaching 90 last year. The family made sure to dig out his 40 year old red Dexter sweater and helped him to a game to cheer on the Tigers for what proved to be his last time. It will be one of their lingering memories of him.
There are so many stories like these. You never know what you will see on the court or who you will see in the stands at tourney week. So as you take your seat or tune into a game, remember you are now a tiny part of one of Maines most meaningful traditions.