All I Want for Christmas is a Holiday Basketball Tournament

By David Espinoza ’Tis the season to be jolly! Every year I look forward to watching at least one holiday basketball tournament – Oregon has some of the best. The Les Schwab Invitational and the Southern Oregon Subaru Christmas Classic are two great ones. The Abby’s Holiday Classic in Medford, Oregon, is the state’s longest running tourney for this time of the year. There are so many good ones all over the state.

Christmas is about giving. When Jesus Christ was born he received gifts from the three wise men. This special time of the year should not be about what I want. All too often we think about ourselves and “getting”. Maybe this year we can take the time to do something for someone or give someone a gift they enjoy. All too often I’ve seen where people receive gifts that the “giver” enjoys. Do research on the person you’re buying for or doing for. You’ll feel much better seeing that smile on their face when they open the present – to me, that’s a gift in itself.

Christmas is time for family. Everyone has busy schedules throughout the year. It’s rare for the entire family to be together in one place. For instance, with my family, I have two boys and two stepdaughters. They each have their immediate family and schedules. They work year-round and have busy lives (a good thing). One of my stepdaughters lives in Canada. My other stepdaughter lives in Wilsonville, Oregon. My two boys live here in Salem (blessing). I guess what I’m trying to say is that holidays are special and important – a time for everyone to see family and catch up on things.

Okay, now back to holiday tournaments. Sorry I got off track. The tournaments give us a chance to go somewhere with family and experience an eye-opening event while supporting our local team. We can eat at restaurants that are different than our local area. Also, meeting new people from the opposing team can be a great experience … if we let it. Staying at a hotel that you’ve never seen or experienced can be fun. Sharing that time is precious and healthy – if we choose to make it that.

I’ll try to prepare myself for the tournament by using this as an example. I was sitting next to a gentleman at the McKay vs. Sheldon game on December 16th. Our local team (McKay Royal Scots) was playing at the Sheldon Irish gym. During the game, I felt one of their players traveled and the referee missed the call, instead, a foul on our player was called. I yelled, “That was traveling!” The gentleman turned to me and responded, “He got tripped first that wasn’t traveling!” I remembered what I had written in one of my earlier posts about good sportsmanship. I thought about it for a few seconds. Then, I said, “You guys have a really good team, they are very quick and can shoot the ball well.” A smile came from him and we became friends in the fourth quarter.

My heart goes out to people that are struggling and can’t afford to take that time off from work. I know that a majority will take a vacation during the holidays. If you’re one of those people and have never been to a holiday tournament, I really encourage you to take a chance – you’ll love it!

This is the time of the year where there is plenty of delicious food to eat – and don’t forget about the hot chocolate with marshmallows. The ham, turkey, pies, fudge, etc. are treats for the entire family to enjoy during the season – please, no fruitcake. Pack some holiday treats for the trip to a holiday tournament and eat them while you watch the games.

I know I’m talking basketball in particular, but there are also other sporting events that go on during the holiday season. Pick the one that your family most enjoys and have fun!

Merry Christmas to all! I want to wish everyone a joyful holiday season. I also want to thank all of the athletes competing in holiday tournaments. May everyone stay injury-free during the games (Alexis Wolf, don’t worry that ankle will heal soon).

I remember those tournaments when I was playing many moons ago – some of the most exciting times.