BOUNCE: What does the future hold for the SAC Holiday Tournament?

Homestead’s Ayanna Patterson defends the post during a September 27, 2019 game against Snider in the SAC Holiday Tournament.

As reported by Outside the Huddle earlier this week, the SAC Holiday Tournament has been shelved for 2020.

While Fort Wayne Community Schools announced that the cancellation was due to Covid-19 restrictions, OTH has learned that the backing out of Parkview Sports Medicine as the sponsor of the event was the bigger issue.

After all, if Covid-19 is the reason, why are no other scheduled FWCS basketball games being affected?

While some will question why a sponsor is even needed, the overhead is substantial for the event – with pay for the workers and security being the biggest expenditures. Conventional wisdom would have you believe that with two-plus months before the tournament, a new sponsor could be found, but…apparently not.

With this development comes thoughts about the future of the SAC Holiday Tournament, an annual celebration of the league’s basketball prowess every year since 1975.

But over the last few years, interest has waned. Attendance has declined and some schools aren’t exactly huge fans of the event itself.

So does the hiatus in 2020 open the door for some changes to the tournament? Does it return in 2021 in its current configuration and locale?

Bounce has some suggestions on options.

1. EXPANSION

Spin it however you want, the same 10 schools competing in this thing grows stale. Sorry, it is true. Especially when the same schools tend to dominate (particularly on the girls’ side).

What about ditching the SAC-inclusive format and opening this bad boy up to other squads? Welcome in Blackhawk Christian, Leo and Westview boys along with Norwell girls.

Spice this thing up with some new blood.

2. ROTATING VENUES

Yeah, no one wants to host this thing other than Wayne, Bounce understands that.

But if only one of 10 schools wants to host, does that say something about the tournament itself?

While Wayne does a good job hosting, the onus should not just be put on Athletic Director Gary Raber and his exceptional staff to hold this thing down every December.

3. NEW FORMAT

The three or four-day (depending on the year and format) schedule is a grind for all involved.

The annoyance of the format is also a pain for coaches, event workers and fans alike due to the uncertainty of how far each team will advance. Basically, you have to clear multiple days and times around the holidays to accommodate the POTENTIAL of playing.

So how about a pool format (with a bigger field) followed by a day of matchups to crown champions? We saw it in the old Huntington North/Columbia City tournament around the same time, as well as the big Weddig Tournament in Richmond.

Firmly set the schedule for the first two days of games, then make Day 3 the title rounds. At the very least, it allows people to schedule their days around the times their team plays for Days 1 and 2.

4. DITCH THE THING ALTOGETHER

A lot has changed in 45 years. When the SAC Holiday Tournament began, one-day shootouts and multi-day prep hoops events were a novelty around the state.

But today, the holiday season sees a multitude of such events throughout Indiana, many of much higher stature than the SAC Holiday Tournament.

Think about it, what benefits the top SAC girls and boys programs more, beating up on opponents (the majority of which are inferior) in a league tournament OR going to things such as the Hall of Fame Tournament at New Castle to play top-flight competition?

Why can’t an area school host a one or multi-day shootout the level of the Weddig? Bring in 16-20 teams at multiple locations to truly showcase northeast Indiana hoops to the rest of the state?

Maybe this cancellation should be looked upon as an opportunity instead of a negative?

These opinions represent those of  Bounce and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Bounce on Twitter at Bounce_OTH

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