Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

February 13, 2014

Diddle Arena will be missed this season

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — District high school basketball tournaments tip off in less than two weeks. These are welcome occasions, energizing communities that are still sluggish from winter’s pall and signaling the imminent arrival of college basketball’s March madness, one of the Bluegrass state’s liveliest months.

For more than a decade, players in Region 4 have competed for district titles while eyeing Western Kentucky University’s E.A. Diddle Arena as the target destination. Diddle Arena gives the Region 4 tournaments a weighty feel – the lights, the size and the tradition reinforce the sense that qualifying for the regional tournament is a substantial achievement.

This season, however, the tournaments’ atmospheres will be different.

KHSAA Commissioner Julian Tackett ruled in January that the Region 4 tournaments will return to school sites – Barren County High School for the boys, Allen County-Scottsville High School for the girls – even though most of the region’s 17 schools wanted the tournaments to stay at WKU, just not enough to make it official.

At this point, we’d achieve nothing by critiquing the factors – politics, finances, logistics – that contributed to the stalemate. It remains disappointing, however, that the divisions were so profound that Tackett had to intervene to begin with, much less that he chose to alter something that had become part of Region 4’s basketball identity.

The facilities at ACS and BCHS have hosted regional tournaments in the past, and both athletic departments have strong track records in tournament management. We have no doubt that the events will be successful.

There’s no question, though, that playing inside a familiar high school gym feels less significant than taking the court at an NCAA Division I arena, and it’s a shame that this season’s players won’t have the same opportunity as their teammates from previous years.

Tackett’s decision leaves open the possibility that the tournaments will return to Diddle in 2015, and we hope that’s the case. Perhaps a season’s absence from WKU will make the holdouts’ hearts grow fonder.