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I've seen more local high school and college basketball games than I can count, not just those involving my kids, but at high schools around the region. I've become a hoops junky over the years, and have noticed a trend on the high school level that is a bit concerning.

Abuse of officials has gotten out of hand, and a lot of it stems from inconsistent officiating. You couldn't pay me $1,000 a game to ref a varsity high school game around here and deal with the harassment they get, but I think they are being set up to fail.

High school players have gotten bigger and faster, and the game is played at a much quicker pace than it was. Two referees can't see everything, and I think varsity high school basketball in our region has advanced to the point where three refs are needed. College hoops games use three refs, at the junior college level on up.

The schools and athletic leagues will understandably balk at the cost, but there is a way to pay for it, and even save some money: Eliminate interscholastic sports on the modified level.

I wholeheartedly agree kids in 7th and 8th grades need some sports at these ages, but they don't need to be bused all around the North Country, and they don't need to be coached by people making thousands of dollars per season for what the kids get out of it.

This would also do away with kids being cut from teams in middle school, which is a completely ridiculous practice. Is there anything worse than 12-year-old kids being cut from a team at such an impressionable age, in light of the things they deal with these days?

This will never happen because modified coaches in most districts are teachers, and these stipends are treasured. So the teachers union will fight it tooth and nail.

But some of that money could go for improved intramurals that would actually involve more kids, instead of kids being told they aren't good enough.

-- Don Lehman



Don Lehman covers crime and Warren County government for The Post-Star. His work can be found on Twitter @PS_CrimeCourts and on

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