As baseball's spring training opens to our south, I feel the spirit of Ernie Banks. "Let's play two!" Although I do love baseball, what's on my mind is Ivy League basketball. I'd like to see some doubleheaders. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to go to both games? The current structure of the Ivy League schedule makes it so that when a men's team is at home, a women's team faces the same team on the road, and vice versa. It's not a bad system, but there are certainly advantages to having doubleheaders, the most obvious of which is that fans could attend all of their school's men's and women's basketball games. I'll get my wish on March 7, when Princeton visits Penn with both of its squads. It's my hope that some day this sort of occurrence will be more the rule than the exception. Last weekend, it is possible that the only Penn students on hand to see junior forward Diana Caramanico break the all-time women's scoring record were the other members of the Quakers. That's not to say that a twin bill that also featured the Penn men would have drawn enough Penn fans to make Newman Arena seem like the Palestra, but at least some of the die-hards would have had more of an incentive to make it to Ithaca. The Penn men's team -- a Palestra mainstay at women's games before the Ivy season got underway -- could also get a chance to watch. "We don't get to see them play during the Ivy season," men's center Geoff Owens said. "It would be neat, especially with them playing well? and it would help them to get a few more fans out to their games." More fans at the games would also mean more money spent at the concession stands, especially during the customary 30-minute break between the opener and the nightcap. That could help to offset worries about giving out more free tickets with the added number of family members in attendance. The Penn Athletic Department has been very busy this week promoting this weekend's women's games to the student body, especially Saturday's tilt with Harvard. But you can't raffle off Final Four tickets on a weekly basis. And when there is a heavy promotion, it would be a matter of trying to boost student attendance from an already steady base of season ticket holders, instead of starting from scratch. Doubleheaders helped to boost attendance in the Northeast Conference in the early- and mid-1990s until that league's expansion made routine twin bills no longer feasible. So, the Patriot League is now the only conference that currently features doubleheaders. "It helps. It helps a lot, especially with those teams that don't have many fans," said Penn women's coach Kelly Greenberg, who was an associate head coach at Holy Cross last season. Holy Cross is in the Patriot League. While Penn doesn't really have a tough time attracting fans, teams around the Ancient Eight routinely play to empty seats, especially in women's basketball. Last weekend's Penn women's games at Cornell and Columbia combined to draw under 500 people. In addition to fans, Penn has something else that the rest of the Ivy League does not have -- the Palestra, a building that owes its mystique as much to the days of Big 5 doubleheaders as anything else. "My dad all the time tells me how much history there is in the Palestra," said guard Claire Cavanaugh, a native of Drexel Hill, Pa. "People of our generation haven't really gotten a taste of that." And while the days of running many men's Big 5 games back to back seem to have passed, there is certainly little reason that the tradition of the City Series could not be revived with some men's and women's double dips in the Palestra. "I think we should have them more with the Big 5 games especially," Owens said. "There's definitely no reason why we shouldn't. They might play the same team three days earlier than us, and I just think, why not play a doubleheader?" Why not, indeed.Comments powered by Disqus
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