Neil O. Nelson

Back in the day, when every town had a school and a basketball team, before all roads led out of town, before ESPN even, there were the district basketball tournaments.

Where spring’s warming temperatures melted the ice and snow surrounding the district tournament’s playoff sites and whose entire parking lots were muddied something terrible, where popcorn was sold in narrow bags, pop in cups; where coaches were in fine form, basketball players never better and cheerleaders never prettier; where fans were never more excited and where hometown stores closed early; where spring’s work on the farm was idled, spring housecleaning temporarily forgotten and where the clergy silently prayed for the players in their respective congregations.

In the spring, the districts were the big thing, I want to tell you.

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