Local gyms are packed for county rivalries, but much smaller for more important contests

Published 8:56 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015

There’s arguably no better place to watch a high school basketball game than in Selma and Dallas County. For games between county rivals, or even matchups featuring Wilcox Central, R. C. Hatch or Francis Marion, the gyms are usually full.

Often, fans will have to sit in the aisle way to have room. The big crowds in the gyms speak to how much love there is for basketball in the county.

But there is one troubling part.

When county schools aren’t squaring off, the crowds are much smaller. When Selma High School took on Hillcrest Tuesday night there were seats available everywhere, which is uncommon for the Saints. However, if it was Southside and not Hillcrest in those red jerseys, the crowd would’ve been so big that parking would’ve extended all the way around the school.

It’s not just a Selma High problem though. The same thing happens at Southside, Keith and Dallas County.

County rivalries bring in fans. Outside of that, the crowds are good, but nowhere near what they are when two local schools face off.

The problem is that almost none of the county rivalries actually mean anything outside of bragging rights.

On Tuesday night, Selma’s teams were playing a key area showdown with Hillcrest —the type of game that decides seeding for the area tournament, which is essentially where the playoffs begin in high school basketball.

Plus, our local schools depend on the money from games to support the programs. We wrote earlier this year about the financial problem Southside High’s football team was having, in part, due to a lack of attendance.

Basketball is nowhere near as expensive, but it still costs money to run a program. Being able to count on consistent attendance would allow schools to rely on more than just a handful of games to pay the bills.