Villages around Southeast are talking about it.
The hottest topic since Obamacare and Miami Dolphins bullying.
The proposal that a women’s bracket be added again to the Gold Medal Basketball Tournament.
According to a Gold Medal Masters bracket player in Yakutat he can’t even get a cup of coffee without being harassed by female townsfolk wanting to know if they will get to play in the tournament.
The Lions Club is feeling the pressure from villages, larger native organizations and various groups they work with to add a women’s bracket again.
The ladies played from 1999 to 2007.
What happened and where did they go?
The terms equality, discrimination and poor revenue have both been bantered about.
The Lions Club is a non-profit organization and the basketball tournament is one of their largest revenue sources, which helps to fund a scholarship program.
Teams that pack in the faces help fund that scholarship.
A proposal has been put together to address concerns over adding a women’s bracket again, such as extra expenses, lack of attendance and a shortage of volunteers and how these can be resolved without taking away from the profit of the tournament or the time and energy of Lions Club volunteers.
The proposal wants a 4-team women’s bracket for a total of six games.
To avoid the cost of flying in referees the proposal has the blessing of local officials.
The Juneau Douglas Officials Association found six certified officials ($60 per), scorekeepers and timers ($25 per) for a cost of $230 per contest, per an inquiry for availability to cover six women’s games.
The proposal states that while there is a concern an additional bracket would take away from the profit and scholarship funding available and reduces the amount able to be given back to communities, adding another bracket is a way to directly give back to the villages and has a social impact that can reach further than any amount of money could.
In a time of higher rates of domestic violence, substance abuse and obesity throughout the state of Alaska, the additional incentive of playing in the GMT could promote a healthy lifestyle and instill pride in representing community.
Organizations that have submitted letters of support for a women’s bracket include the Kake Women, Hoonah Women, Yakutat Women, Sealaska, CCTHITA, SEARHC, SHI, ANS Grand Camp, ANS Camp 70, ANB Grand Camp and AWARE.
Certain groups have promised over $2,000 to cover any of the women’s costs and other essentials that may arise.
The prospective women’s teams contacted have committed volunteering players beyond the two-player minimum to aid with set up and clean up each evening and any other post they may be needed in during the week. That sentiment was conveyed by the organizations pledging monies as well.
The four women’s teams have agreed to pay a higher fee of $150 to assist in covering their own costs and have agreed to not accept the $300 per diem payout, plus will fundraise to cover any additional expenses.
To address the concerns of poor attendance for past women’s brackets, invitations are to be guaranteed to communities who bring the largest audience to the tournament: Angoon, Kake, Yakutat and Hoonah.
I do have issue that no Juneau team has an invite. These four towns are already well represented and will have paid for admittance to the venue. A host team would draw host fans.
Various bracketed teams around the panhandle were polled by the Lions Club to see if they would be willing to give up their GMT slot.
The reason the B bracket went to 10 teams was because of the desire to be in the tourney, and 12 teams applied, most notably the strong Wrangell squad last year and a return of Metlakatla.
Letters of support for dropping two ‘B’ and two ‘M’ bracket teams have come from many teams, including Hoonah, Kake, Hydaburg, Wrangell and Haines.
However, nearly all want to remain in the tournament.
On Monday, Lions Club members in good standing will meet at the Prospector Hotel and make a decision.
Who will be discriminated against?
Will defending champions give up their spot?
Will some of the hotshot village men’s teams?
Will they choose to not bring back the women? Or will they not bring back the bottom two finishers in both the ‘B,’ ‘C,’ and ‘M’ brackets?
That is a tough question for a fan to ask and an even tougher one for a coach to answer.