Summer Hoops ’20 (Round 2)

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

A few weeks ago here at “The Shop,” I promised to keep our fans apprised of any new developments in summer basketball activities.

While there’s been no activity as far as games played in the Lehigh Valley, there was some criticism about a huge AAU tournament held in the western part of the state – in a county where one of the most severe cases of increased positive Covid-19 numbers have popped up over the last couple weeks.

Unlike baseball and softball tournaments held recently, basketball athletes are in closer proximity to each other during games. The event featured people from different regions of the Commonwealth and, with no official testing done before or during the tournament, some were fearful this would advance the pandemic even further across the state.

Hopefully, time will reveal that these fears will not become a reality.

In the meantime, as promised, we now bring you more “never before published” summer basketball pictures from previous seasons to whet your appetite for full-time sports action coming back.

See if your favorite athletes made this edition of our SportsTalk summer sports photo albums.

Note:  All photos courtesy of Chris Michael.

HS Sports Update: July Edition

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

There actually have been a few positive advancements for local sports returning in Pennsylvania.

Last week, a 12-team softball tournament, comprised of Lehigh Valley school teams, held a successful tournament.  This despite many people objecting to the games being played and a lack of adhering to COVID-19 safety protocols.  One team was photographed on the first day in a huddle with no masks anywhere present, social distancing was not always kept on the benches and most coaches and umpires were not wearing masks throughout the tourney.

Despite the detractors, the tournament went ahead as scheduled and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from RCN TV’s and The Morning Call’s Keith Groller, who stated that he felt the kids’ need to play outweighed the potential risks that could come out of participating in the event.

A similar event for baseball, featuring all but two Lehigh Valley schools plus four teams from outside the area, will take place in early August. The event’s organizers and a few local coaches will be on RCN SportsTalk on July 30 to preview this tournament and discuss ways they plan on keeping kids safe.

(As stated previously here at the “SportsTalk Shop,” RCN was first to report the news of this tournament back in April.)

Of course, it remains to be seen what schools themselves will be doing later this summer regarding their reopening plans.

On Friday, the Allentown Diocese announced that all Catholic schools will be opening on time and as scheduled this fall.

Meanwhile, a number of public school districts, including two of the largest schools in the Lehigh Valley, have already announced that their school year will begin with their students only reporting to school two days a week.

Another one of the larger school districts in the Valley – Northampton – announced last Friday that in-school attendance for students this fall will be “optional,” provided they stay in good standing and participate regularly in online courses.  If more schools follow suit, it will be an interesting challenge for coaches to conduct daily practices with their students not on the grounds prior to workout times.

Elsewhere…

For our Delaware Valley viewers, the Philadelphia sports governing body met last week and gave some direction for their upcoming sports year.  They declared baseball and softball among those sports that are listed with “moderate risk.” A few sports like tennis and golf were labeled as “less risk,” giving those sports a greater chance of having their season take place in some way, shape or form this fall.

For high school football (which nearly everyone can agree is a “high-risk” sport in terms of potentially contracting the Coronavirus)…the PIAA ruled at a meeting later last week that the season is going ahead as scheduled.

There have been rumblings that Pennsylvania could also move “less risk” sports to the fall and higher-risk sports to the spring, although a decision like that would need to occur very soon in order for all pieces of that puzzle to come together.

Current “fall” sports in the Lehigh Valley like golf, tennis and cross country could very easily conduct their competitions while adhering to current social distancing and safety protocols with minimal adjustments.

The PIAA also stated last Wednesday that it will move ahead with scheduled events regardless of how many schools or sports will or will not be able to participate.

So unless Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf objects (and he very well may), it looks like schools will have at least some scholastic sports activities starting by Labor Day.

We shall see.

I also wanted to alert our RCN customers that TOC President Eric Snyder was just on RCN SportsTalk to give an update on the status of his August tournament and, as a local guidance counselor, give his thoughts and suggestions on how we can help our young people adjust to this new normal and on how we can help them transition back to full-time sports activities.

(If you missed the interview, RCN customers can watch the interview in its entirety through RCN On Demand.)

Just one of the many insights Eric told me: even though some areas are still severely limiting the amount of outdoor sports activities, don’t be surprised if some traditional sports tournaments move their games to a different community that has lessened its social distancing restrictions.  It’s not uncommon right now in the Lehigh Valley to see some playgrounds completely restricting access yet see another facility fully packed with students playing – both sites a mile apart from each other.

Eric is also a guidance counselor and gave some great insights on how we can help our young student-athletes through this transition, as we try to get back to our “new normal.”  Snyder is also a Catasauqua baseball coach and had some great insights on the upcoming high school baseball tournament (that we highlighted above.)

There was also some controversial news elsewhere in the state regarding summer high school basketball that could have ripple effects for sports fans and participants in Eastern Pennsylvania…we’ll have more on that as part of our summer hoops update in next week’s blog here at “The SportsTalk Shop.”

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More Summer Hoops 2019

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

The summer basketball campaign is starting to wind down across local playgrounds and gyms.

With several teams losing quite a bit of their squad to graduation, there has been an abundance of young players to keep an eye on, to see which players will fill voids and which returning players (and rebuilding teams) are improving enough to make an impact for the 2019-20 scholastic season.

The biggest story at this year’s “Atown Throwdown” at Cedar Beach in Allentown last week was that most of Lehigh Valley schools did NOT participate. While Bethlehem Catholic and Central Catholic were two of the few local teams who did attend, the trend continued at the annual tournament of teams from outside the Lehigh Valley walking home with a championship. This summer was no exception as Reading took home this year’s crown.

This week here at “The Shop,” we wanted to bring you some pictures from different courts.

 

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Check out the next edition of “RCN SportsTalk” on RCN-TV and hear our next podcast for our latest round of interviews with basketball coaches and players from schools in the RCN viewing area in both the Lehigh and Delaware Valley regions.

And, for more summer basketball action, catch the Catasauqua “Tournament of Champions” title game broadcast on RCN-TV on Thursday, August 8.

With Regrets…

The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of RCN or any other agency, organization, employer or company.

On Saturday, August 4, in Canton, Ohio, the newest inductees will be enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame. This year, eight new members will be added, the maximum allowed in any given year.  Seven will show up.  One will not.

There will be 318 members following this year’s induction. The selection committee is made up of 48 individuals, mostly media members and each NFL city is represented by a media person.

Eligibility for a player or coach begins five years after retirement. Fans actually can nominate a player, coach, or contributor to the Hall.  The committee narrows the list to 25 semifinalists and then down again to 15.  The Selection Committee meets again and, if a nominee receives 80% of the votes, they will be inducted.  There must be at least four and no more than eight new inductees.

This year, Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Ray Lewis, Randy Moss, Brian Urlacher, and Terrell Owens will make up the Class of 2018.

All but Terrell Owens will attend. Although he has not publicly stated his reasons, most believe it is a response to not making the Hall in his first or second year of eligibility.  His statistics certainly merited induction and many felt it was his on- and off-the-field exploits that kept him from garnering the necessary votes the first two years.

Owens is in the top ten in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns. He was a part of three Super Bowl teams with the Dallas Cowboys.  He also was a thorn in the side of almost every team he played for and there were many.  Suffice it to say when he left a team, tears were not shed.

So despite being invited and calling the moment “one of the most memorable days of my life”, he will instead give his acceptance speech at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga on August 4, the same day as the ceremony in Canton.

So, how has the Hall responded to the snub? They will not acknowledge Terrell Owens at all during the ceremony.  Hall of Fame wide receiver, Michael Irvin, said it best, “We can’t spend this moment for all these other guys talking about the guy that is not here.  You cannot do that and take that away. He’s doing his own thing wherever he’s doing his own thing, and God bless him. And when they mention the class they’ll mention him, but why should you steal those other guys’ moment because of the decision of this one?”

“I think it’s the right move. They’re not saying he’s not going to have a bust in the room. They’re not saying he’s not getting his jacket. They’re saying, ‘We’re honoring his wish. He doesn’t want to be here with us, we’re going to mention him as little as possible.’ I think it’s the right move.”

Terrell Owens has a right to not attend a party he was invited to and the Hall has the right to pay as little attention to the no-show as they want.

Both can respond to the invitation as many often do, “With regrets”. Only this time, I think both parties will eventually truly believe it.

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS)

    1. Speaking of the Dallas Cowboys, retired quarterback Tony Romo won the American Century Championship this past weekend. This was part of a celebrity golf tour that now exists for sports personalities. Romo won $125,000, but plays as an amateur, so he donated his winning check to charity.
    2. Back in April when I made my baseball predictions, I could not fathom a stronger team than the Yankees in the American League. But the Boston Red Sox and the Houston Astros have been amazing. Going into the All-Star break only the Red Sox (68 wins), the Astros (64 wins) and the Yankees (62 wins) have more than 60 wins. The best record in the National League belongs to the Cubs, but they would be 13 games behind the Red Sox in the standings if they were in the same division.
    3. Speaking of the Cubs, they have quietly moved past the Milwaukee Brewers in the standings and the media in Chicago and the players give most of the credit to the locker room culture created by former Lafayette student Joe Maddon. If you are a Maddon or Cub fan, Lafayette is auctioning off two “Joe Maddon Baseball Tours” to the highest bidder. For details, go to:https://goleopards.cbsi-auctions.com/
    4. The Phillies are in first place at the All-Star break. They have done it by winning at home where they are 30-16. Only the San Francisco Giants have won more home games (31) than the Phils. Nothing is better than keeping the Philadelphia fans happy at home.
  • Our final Blue Mountain League Game of the Week will be on July 24 when the Martins Creek Creekers travel to Egypt to play the Northern Yankees. Watch at 9:30pm.

 

 

Congratulations Gary Laubach

The Lehigh Valley High School Basketball Hall of Fame recently announced the Class of 2014 to be honored at this year’s Via All-Star Banquet at the Sands Bethlehem Event Center on March 26 at 6:30PM.   Among this year’s inductees is RCN TV sports commentator Gary Laubach.

For more than 30 years, RCN customers have enjoyed watching Gary cover Lehigh Valley high school and Lafayette College football, basketball and baseball.  Gary, a Wilson Area High School graduate, has broadcast over 4,500 local sporting events.  He’s also a member of the Member of the Northampton County American Legion Baseball Hall of Fame, along with the Valley’s football and wrestling halls.

“It has been a wonderful experience to be a part of Lehigh Valley sports for over 40 years.  And now to be honored by the VIA Basketball Hall of Fame Committee for that experience is both humbling and gratifying.  The recognition really goes to the RCN television team since they have been with me the entire journey.  I am certainly proud to be a member of that team.”

Please join us in congratulating Gary by leaving a comment on this post.