Time for a winter “tune up”

By John Bombatch - jbombatch@aimmediamidwest.com

GREENE COUNTY — The weather is getting colder, all of the area Fall high school sports teams have made their exciting postseason runs (way to go, Greeneview Rams football!) or won their state titles (and congratulations again, Beavercreek boys soccer!), so now it’s time to turn our attention to indoor winter sports.

Everyone knows it takes a talented bunch of athletes working hard together as a team in order to be successful. (Or LeBron and a supporting cast of above-average ones).

It also takes a wily coach who knows all the nuances of the game, one who knows how to bring out the best in the team.

That’s all obvious.

But the one major ingredient toward launching a successful basketball season pretty much hinges on one key ingredient:

The pre-game mix tape.

Without a rim-rattlin’ bass line, or someone shrieking out the catchy phrase of the year (i.e. Who Let the Dogs Out?), success just won’t be in the cards for your team.

It’s a given.

And so while most of us will be snarfin’ down our third helping of stuffing and slammin’ down some yams next week, a member of a school’s faculty (likely the person who drew the short straw) will have a pair of headphones on, listening to a girls basketball team’s craftily edited mix tape CD, and discerning whether or not there are any forms of risque language or tasteless innuendos on said tape.

Most song censors have a strict rule of mix tape etiquette inwhich to follow. The rules of determining just what songs can be played and what can’t are very secretive, and varies from school to school.

And that all makes perfect sense, because basketball mix tape creators are a wily bunch.

If they know that a censor will allow the thumping 30-second build up of Drake’s “Forever” to make their play list, they might get a little devious and run the song a bit longer to slip in a bad word.

It’s a testy cat-n-mouse game, between ornery hoopster and rules-minded short straw-drawn faculty staffer, that is perhaps centuries old. … or at least since Elvis.

Personally, I like a mix tape with a good beat. Something that won’t offend Gramma up in the bleachers, and something that brings up the energy in the gymnasium.

Also personally, I’ve heard a lot of bad mix tapes in nearly 30 years of covering sporting events.

Even more personally, I’m not a fan of Top-40 radio where one hears the same five songs ad nauseum until an hour’s worth of commercials break up the monotony. So if Taylor Swift or Katy Perry come bounding out of a gym loudspeaker, I sometimes break into convulsions right there on the spot.

I prefer alternative rock or indie rock — bands with obscure names like Tune-Yards, Little Dragon, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs or Tame Impala, for instance.

(Media recognition will go out to the first game mix tape I hear that works in Tune-Yards’ “Look At Your Hands” into a mix tape!)


Some schools have made specific pre-game mix tapes a part of their arsenal to be used against a particular opponent.

Over the Christmas holidays a few years ago, I attended a Princeton boys basketball game against visiting Middletown. The schools were embroiled in a close Greater Miami Conference championship race at the time, and they didn’t like each other one bit. Years later, they probably STILL snarl at each other.

So what did the Vikings hoops deejays play to pump up their crowd?

Bing Crosby crooning “White Christmas”!

The Vikings’ gym felt like a cozy fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate-filled winter holiday cabin.

…. And Middletown played like they were wearing snowshoes.

Princeton smashed them that night.


What’s your best story about putting together a pre-game mix tape (or editing them)? What’s your favorite, or least-favorite song to hear at a game?

I’ll tell the best stories in an upcoming column.


…. I’ll make everyone listen to my mix tape.


By John Bombatch


Contact John Bombatch, or laugh at his music tastes, at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.

Contact John Bombatch, or laugh at his music tastes, at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.