Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
Find more columns by Luke here.
There are a lot of things that make sports great.
But maybe the best thing, and it doesn’t matter what sport it is, is parity.
Games are more fun to cover, watch and play when the competition is evenly matched.
So it’s been refreshing this season to watch what’s happening with basketball in the Western Slope League.
Finally, there’s a little parity.
On the girls side, Glenwood Springs and Moffat County have dominated for the past several years. It was always a two-team race for a league championship. But this season has shown that as many as five teams can win the league. Tight games have plagued stat sheets and made it an interesting race.
The same could be said about the boys. Traditionally, Steamboat always has been the team to beat. The Sailors program is a basketball factory, where the names change but the wins keep coming. Glenwood Springs made it a close race last year and took the league championship, but this season it appears every game between league opponents comes down to the wire.
Parity does more than make for exciting action. It’s better overall for the league. Although coaches might not admit it now — they all want to win each game by 20 — it’ll only help the league in the long run.
Cruising through the league schedule before the playoffs is nice, but it doesn’t do much to help a team prepare for a deep playoff run.
Besides, the Western Slope League has enough trouble getting the Front Range to notice them.
But this year, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any number of league teams make a deep run in the state playoffs. That’s what playing tight games means.
It allows players to know what to do when they’re down four with a minute to go on the road in a hostile environment.
And it’s what to do when up six with three minutes to go.
So with roughly half the league schedule remaining, the end push should be fun.
There are six teams on the boys side that could win a league title, and five on the girls side.
With teams flip-flopping home and away, those four-point wins or losses could certainly swing the other way.
That, in its essence, is the beauty of parity.
— To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail email@example.com