From Friday through Sunday, the Covelli Center on Ohio State’s campus played host to the first and second round games of 2021 TBT Columbus Region. I was fortunate enough to attend them in person.
This was the first sporting event of this nature I’d covered in two years since TBT was in Columbus (but open to the public) in 2019. Outside of an individual game here and there between then and the start of the pandemic in March 2020, I hadn’t covered and barely attended a sporting event in 24 months.
That alone made it an unforgettable experience that reminded me of how much I love feeling the energy, atmosphere, and intensity of a high-stakes sporting event, particularly basketball. But the intimacy TBT provides made my time at the Columbus Region that much better.
The Basketball Tournament offers an incredibly high level of play in a supremely relaxed atmosphere. That means fans are right along the court, and players and the game aren’t kept at such a distance like in the NBA and college basketball. The way the contests are officiated allow plenty of physicality, and the Elam Ending adds more streetball-like flavor the event.
The fans who come to TBT games are generally serious basketball fans – they’re there because they truly love the game, not because they got swept up in a rush of excitement surrounding success or stardom that can happen in the pro and college games. Now, to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with that; I want as many people to enjoy basketball as possible. But it’s nice to be among people simply thrilled to be around the game because, above all else, they love it.
I had the chance to meet some people who are involved behind the scenes in making TBT what it is, and they couldn’t have been nicer. I got to get in front of some players I grew up watching and shared some funny moments with players I’ve seen on TV for years. I stood right behind the basket as elite basketball players left it all out on the floor in the pursuit of $1 million. The TBT Columbus Region made for a memorable weekend.
I’ll be back at the Covelli Center on Tuesday for the final two games in Columbus, with the winners on to Dayton to play in the TBT quarterfinals. I’ll get to watch Jordan Crawford, Kosta Koufos, Wes Clark, Devon Reed, William Buford, Jed Ledbetter, Nick Perkins, Kamari Murphy, and many more amazing players participate in one of the most unique basketball events in the world. I cannot express how excited I am for that.
Featured photo courtesy of Ben Solomon.