A business partner put my name on the list to attend an Upper Darby boys basketball game last night. I didn’t know why. I later learned his son plays for visiting Strathaven and he thought this would be a good opportunity for me to see the Upper Darby School District’s new attendance policy for winter sports since I wrote about it in a blog post.
He obviously knew that I wouldn’t have been there otherwise so this was his slick way of getting me to see his son on the team and to share my perspective on the new attendance policy born out of a fight in the stands at a previous Upper Darby home game.
Let me walk you through how all this works.
You enter the gym like you’re going to a wedding with a separate entrance for the bride and groom – the home and visitor doors in this case. Just inside the door there’s a table staffed with professionals ready to verify your student ID or find your name on the list. Specialty colored wrist bands are administered and you are ushered to your section of the gym to sit. Actually, you aren’t ushered anywhere, but there are signs over the section you belong.
Once seated, a quick glace around the gym spots a few grizzly looking uniformed officers and a school administer or two occasionally checking wristbands to make sure you’re sitting in the right section.
And then a basketball game broke out on the court.
Since I can’t enjoy a high school basketball game without a bag of Tropical flavored Skittles, I moseyed to the lobby between the JV and varsity games to engage the concession stand. While devouring one the best soft pretzels I ever had in the lobby (the policy prohibits eating in the gym), I saw a young girl prevented from entering the contest. She tried to enter through the visitor door but was turned away like a terrorist. She stood a whopping 5’1” and couldn’t have been more than 14-years-old. She took it like a champ and left the gym with her girlfriend without a whimper like she’d rather be at the Dairy Queen across the street anyway.
I couldn’t help but to compare the similarities of what it’s like to attend an Upper Darby game with an attendance policy and a Chester High home game without one.
Chester High lets you know from the door they ain’t playing around with security. There’s usually a police vehicle parked in front of the school in plain view as you walk toward the door to enter the school. You will be standing in the cold waiting in line while you participate in the equivalent of TSA-esq airport security with x-ray machines, metal detectors, and a few school security personnel ready to wand you or just give you that look as you stroll down the hall for the privilege of paying your admittance fee.
The Skittles lady is right there beyond the ticket taker and there’s another guard or two at the door to the gymnasium along with uniformed officers lurking somewhere around.
Once inside the gym, even without signs, people seem to sit just as Upper Darby wants you to although somewhat shifted. For example, at Chester, the student section is behind the cheerleaders. The home supporter section is behind the Chester bench and the visitors sit behind the visiting teams bench. That leaves one section for those people who didn’t know there were a designated seating area for them in the first place. Upper Darby seats the home crowd across the court from their bench and family behind the bench. Otherwise, it’s all the same between Chester and Upper Darby seating charts.
In conclusion, there wasn’t much to see with this Upper Darby policy. I doubt if it turns away any more people than would have normally come to the game – unless you’re a 14-year-old girl. I was told it was a typical sized crowd for a Central League game which wasn’t much less than a typical Chester High game. When people were politely asked to move to their correct section, they politely moved to their correct section. All in all, I guess the policy is working.
About the game. Upper Darby came out the gate fast and then sputtered from the 2nd quarter on resulting in a home loss. Strathhaven grabbed every rebound limited Upper Darby to one shot. Luke Edwards for Strathaven is a baller. Stath has one of the best motion offenses I’ve seen. They lack a solid point guard and are a tad smaller than average. Upper Darby has to have one of the tallest players in the county. He’s going to be very good but he’s a little green right now.
Celebrity sighting: I spotted new Delaware County Councilwoman Monica Taylor taking in the action sitting appropriately in the home team section.