March Madness happens in high school, too


(Richard A. Lipski/For The Washington Post)

It’s almost March, and that means it is almost time for March Madness. That’s the annual men’s and women’s college basketball tournaments.

But there’s another kind of March Madness: High school basketball tournaments are getting started all over Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. Teams are playing for city, conference and state championships.

This kind of March Madness is a lot easier for kids to see. It might also be better for kids than the big-time college games. Here are some reasons why.

First, tickets for high school games are much less expensive. Most games cost a couple of bucks for kids and not much more for adults.

That money gets you a great seat. Some games can be crowded, but even the worst seat in a high school gym is better than 90 percent of the seats in Verizon Center.

A great seat means you are close to the action. If you are a kid who loves to play hoops, you can see the players and study their moves. That might help you the next time you go out onto the hard court.

But my favorite part of high school basketball games is the players.

Let’s be honest: Most kids will not grow up to be Jabari Parker or Alyssa Thomas. Parker is a 6-foot-8-inch, 235-pound freshman phenom at Duke University. Thomas is a 6-foot-2-inch All-American forward at the University of Maryland. She will probably be a top pick in the Women’s National Basketball Association draft this spring.

The players on the best college teams are big, strong, athletic and super skilled. The kids who play high school ball are more like the kids you see every day at the grocery store or in your neighborhood.

High school games are filled with regular kids, such as a 6-foot forward who gets serious playing time because he can shoot three-pointers and play defense. Or a 5-foot-4-inch point guard who helps her team win by handling the ball and making all the right passes.

If you are a 10-year-old who plays basketball, you have a real shot to become like those players. It just takes some skill and a lot of practice.

So check out the Sports section to find high school tournament games being played near you. The games are fun, and they’re dramatic, too, because just as with the college tournaments, the winners go to the next round while the losers go home.

High school basketball is a great way to be part of March Madness.

Bowen writes the sports opinion column for KidsPost. He is the author of 19 sports books for kids, including six basketball books. His latest basketball book is “Real Hoops.”

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