OFF THE COURT
For the first time in a decade, Steve Arnold is enjoying life as a basketball fan.
Prior to this year, Arnold spent 10 seasons as the Warren G. Harding High basketball coach. He compiled a 191-44 record, won three district championships and took a team to the state semifinals. At the end of last season, he stepped aside to become the Raiders’ football coach.
So, how is Arnold spending his winter away from the the hardwood?
“I’m watching basketball, but from a different perspective,” Arnold said. “Last year, I watched college football as a fan, and I’d study college basketball, trying to pick up anything I could to help my game. This year, it’s the opposite. I still love basketball. I just don’t have the time to miss coaching the sport because I am so occupied with football.”
Arnold has attended several Harding games this winter. He has also been following a number of programs which are coached by former assistants. And he keeps tabs on a number of his former opponents.
“A lot of these guys, I was foes with on the court, but away from the game, we became very good friends,” Arnold said. “It’s fun to be able to see how these guys are doing without worrying about what I have to do to beat them.”
Arnold has also been closely following his former players who are now performing at the collegiate level. In fact, an upcoming vacation will allow him to watch several of his former athletes in person.
“This is the first time in a long time that I’ve had an opportunity to take a vacation in the winter,” Arnold said. “This will be a new experience.”
The upcoming tournament will include new twist for schools in Ohio’s Central District. Beginning this year, the higher-seeded team will be given the opportunity to host tournament games at the sectional level. This includes both sectional semifinal and final contests.
District-level games will continue to be played at neutral sites.
If the higher-seeded team is unable to host a game, it will be required to find an adequate neutral site, or allow the opponent to host the game.
“We’re hoping that by doing this, we can increase interest, attendance and revenue,” said Ohio High School Athletic Association assistant commissioner Jerry Snodgrass. “We were in a situation last year where two teams that are less than 30 minutes apart from each other each had to travel ninety minutes to play a sectional game on a Monday night.”
Snodgrass noted that the move was overwhelmingly approved by the schools within the Central District. He expects other districts to follow suit in the future.
“We actually were approached a few years back by officials from the Northeast District who wanted to adopt the same format,” Snodgrass said. “At the time, there was a belief that it was against our bylaws. Then we did some research and realized there is nothing on the books preventing this from happening.”
DID YOU KNOW?
Teams are permitted a total of five scrimmages. If a team doesn’t use all of its scrimmages before the start of the season, it can use them at any point during the season, including the tournament. ... Girls are permitted to play on a boys team. However, once a girl joins a boys team, she loses her eligibility to play on a girls team. ... Ohio teams are permitted to travel and play out of state to a non-bordering state once per season. However, no school can be missed due to the trip. ... While most schools recognize a 20-minute warmup period between junior varsity and varsity games, there are no set requirements according to rules set forth by the National Federation of High Schools. In fact, several leagues throughout the state this winter have reduced the warmup period.
Steve Ruman, The Vindicator