By: Sammy Clough, Sports Editor
On Thursday, Oct. 18, we experienced one of my favorite days in all of sports. All four major sports (NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL) had games on the same day, which is known as a “sports equinox.” These rare and beautiful occurrences are only possible in October and November each year. The MLB playoff intensity ramps up in the League Championship Series’ while the NBA and NHL are in the first few days of their season.
For me, the cherry was put on top of this year’s sports equinox as Furman basketball hosted their new season tip off event known as ‘Dins After Dark. Not only did I get all four major sports in one day, but I also was able to see the Paladins in action in Timmons Arena for the first time this year.
I loved that I was afforded this great blessing from Furman basketball, but I still have an issue with the nature of how the college basketball season begins each year.
In the past, NCAA rules stated that college basketball programs were not allowed to start formal team activities such as practices and scrimmages until Oct. 15 each year. As a result, college programs across the nation hosted events known as Midnight Madness. Teams came together at midnight on Oct. 15 and put on exhibition events for their eager fanbases to officially begin the college basketball season.
However, a 2013 NCAA rule change gave schools more flexibility in starting team activities each year, effectively ennuling the excitement of midnight basketball in college gyms everywhere. Now, teams still host tip off event like ‘Din After Dark, but to much less anticipation as they have been practicing for weeks leading up to the events.
I no longer have Oct. 15 circled on my calendar, and I can no longer flip between three point shootouts, dunk contests, intrasquad scrimmages and pep rallies at midnight each year while I should be in bed. Yes, I support the NCAA’s reasoning in expanding the season to afford more off days between practices, but I cannot help but think back and miss the good old days of Midnight Madness.
It is not the same as it used to be, but even still these events reawaken my basketball fandom. ‘Dins After Dark festivities this year included a dunk contest in which redshirt junior Clay Mounce had Timmons Arena in a tizzy with his spectacular display of athleticism.
It might not have begun at midnight this year, but college basketball is officially back, and Furman basketball is hopefully ready to wow us once again as games begin with a women’s basketball exhibition Nov. 1 against USC Aiken.