Exclamation points/The Red Line

On our statistics spreadsheets, I mark an exclamation point next to any game that has been rescheduled for whatever reason.

There is no actual reason why I do this – the master schedule is a completely different document and the spreadsheets mostly exist for statistical purposes. The best reason I can come up with for doing it is a means of measuring just how bad the winter’s been and feeling sorry for myself.

Sometimes at church or at the supermarket, someone will remark, “Well, looks like you got an extra night off!” Yes, but.

Once I trudge through the cold and snowy drifts into the office, there’s still a newspaper to put out (no snow days for us), and then the fun begins.

The first step is tracking down athletic directors and coaches to make sure, first, is your game tonight really postponed, and second, is there a make-up date yet?

This winter is beginning to feel like a demented reality show called “Make-Up Date” in which two winning schools receive not a rose, but the right to not have to stage their basketball game on a Wednesday night, a Saturday afternoon or on a night when there are already 10 other games going on.

That’s the thing, folks: When the snow falls, certain tasks still have to be performed.

Chasing make-up dates is an administrative hassle for me, sure, but before you go back to bed on your next snow day, think of the folks who have to scramble to make sure your kids get a chance to play on a different day.

I used to think there was one exception: tournaments. My standard joke was that the Michigan High School Athletic Association required a minimum of three horsemen of the apocalypse to postpone a tournament game.

Then, last year’s Leap Day storm happened. It wasn’t exactly apocalyptic, but it was enough to spatter a bunch of important events all over the single busiest week of the Copper Country sports calendar like hitting a grease fire with a spatula. It was an experience I don’t want to repeat.

This year’s tournament brackets are out and if you’ll join me in praying for at least one week of climatological sanity, I’d appreciate it.

The Division 3, Region 17 hockey tournament begins Feb. 25 at MacInnes Student Ice Arena with a play-in game between Hancock and Jeffers. The winner plays Feb. 28 against L’Anse in the first of two semifinals, to be followed by Houghton vs. Calumet, with the championship game on Saturday night, March 2.

The Class C district girls’ basketball tournament is at Houghton High School during the same week. The Feb. 25 play-in game is between Calumet and Hancock, with the winner facing L’Anse in the first of two semifinals, to be followed by Houghton vs. Ironwood. The championship game is March 1.

The Class C boys’ districts are in L’Anse this year beginning with a March 4 game between the hosts and Calumet, with the winner to face Ironwood March 6. Houghton and Hancock will play in the other semifinal, with the final on March 8.

Things got a little easier to track in Class D, where we have a de facto Copper Country Conference tournament in both genders.

The girls start with two games Feb. 25 at Jeffers High, with Chassell and Lake Linden-Hubbell meeting for the right to face the hosts two days later, and Baraga vs. Dollar Bay, with the winner getting Ontonagon.

The boys’ tournament is at Chassell March 4-8, with Dollar Bay and Baraga playing for the right to face Chassell, and Jeffers and Ontonagon facing off to meet LL-H.

We’ve got about a month to prepare. Let’s pray that the exclamation points come out on the floor and stay out of my spreadsheet.

Brandon Veale can be reached at bveale@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.