It’s Tourney Time; The T-Shirt Says So

  • Deb Beaupre<br/> (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

    Deb Beaupre
    (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

  • Deb Beaupre<br/> (Valley News - Jennifer Hauck)

It is basketball season and, therefore, tournament time.

Tournaments offer variety and interesting matchups, with kids playing kids they wouldn’t normally encounter during the regular season. Sometimes, there are so many games going on in one gym, the play is only separated by curtains. I don’t know how the kids hear the whistle and discern which is their particular ref.

The games are shorter, which keeps it moving. But there are also more of them, starting at the crack of dawn and going all day right up until supper, with teams playing several games — sometimes hours apart — to determine the winner in their category.

Naturally, people get hungry, and this is a money-making opportunity for the hosts. Having just been a part of hosting a soccer tournament, I know the amount of effort that goes into organizing the food for these events, and I appreciate the healthy snacks and the homemade goods.

If you have ever been to a late-afternoon game, you would much rather grab a bag of veggies, hot soup and a yogurt than some of the other choices available.

You know what I am talking about. You see the unlucky folks sitting behind the tables, looking bone-tired, frozen and a little desperate — much like similar folks do by hour five of a yard sale.

They track you as you make your way down the hallway. There’s no small talk. Everyone knows what’s at stake here: They are selling hot dogs in water with a surface skim on top. If you dare eat one, your intestines could dissolve. A look passes between you and the seller, though you try not to make eye contact. Yet in that look, much is communicated.

Yours say, “I am sorry you got this shift.”

Theirs asks, “Any chance you want a hot dog? Or this hard, cold donut from 7 this morning?”

Yours replies, “Not on your life, friend.”

All of this in the five seconds it takes for you to walk past the table to get to the cashier.

That’s another thing about tournaments; they cost money. Same kid, same team you have been following all season, only now you have to pay to watch him or her play.

Some coaches aspire to create a tournament. It may have to do with wanting to leave a legacy, being in the throes of a Peter Pan complex or some other psycho-drivel like that. Some of the names of these events do seem lame to me, making me even less inclined to want to go, no matter how good the nearby shopping.

I think the key to creating a clutch tournament is picking a good name. Pick a cool name and everyone will want to come because they will want it on the T-shirt.

Yes, the T-shirt. The other thing about these tournaments is that right beside the food tables is the T-shirt guy, making those personalized bad boys as fast as his little machine can go.

A few words about T-shirts.

Coaches are T-shirts afficionados. This is a known fact. I spend a week every summer with coaches from all over the country, and you can’t imagine the ugliness that abounds. You would think we were at a merchandising convention for silkscreeners.

Coaches will do anything and go anywhere for a T-shirt, and they will wear anybody’s T-shirt. They have no discrimination whatsoever. I know this because I am married to a guy who will wear an NHTI shirt, NEC shorts, silver sneaks, a UMass sweatshirt and a Newport hat, all totally different colors — all of which he got for free.

He looks like a refugee. But he is perfectly happy the way he is and will come home from conferences with more garish, raggedy-looking, mixed-match T-shirts, caps, visors and even coffee mugs with every kind of design and say, “I got one for you, too.” As if!

I put it right in the bag for Listen. He has, maybe, one logo-free outfit to his name.

My man is not only a user, he is also a dealer. He is good friends with the man whose company makes the uniforms for the players. This guy experiments with designs a lot, and Beaups reaps the benefits. He also is generous and shares. Men in town who always wanted to fit in get talked into being a coach because of the lure of the matching T-shirts.

Players, however, will wear T-shirts of tourneys they were in. So to start a brand new hoop contest, you come up with a name that is catchy, put it on a T-shirt in a laidback color and font that is hip now, keep that as your logo in all your messaging and you have a winner. I might even wear that if you do it right.

For example, an all-female contest could be called Girls Rule or Play Like a Girl — Hard, while one for old guys could be called Mine Are Bigger, with a subtitle of And We Are Not Talking Prostate. One for people of color in the Upper Valley could be Yes, We Are In All 50, Baby.

I could not join, however, despite qualifying.

I don’t know much about the game, despite having been a basketball cheerleader in college.

But that is a story for another day.

Deb Beaupre lives and writes in Meriden .