On December 26, 1984 Joseph Buckelew, then one of the owners of WOBM, threw up the ceremonial “jump ball” before Manchester would play Central in the very first game of the inaugural WOBM Christmas Classic.

I didn’t call it “1st annual” because I had no idea if the basketball tournament held at Ocean County College at that time would be a success.  However it was and there was a second followed by a third and this December would have been the 37th annual edition of what has become one of the best holiday tournaments in the state if I do say so myself (and I do).

The tournament has grown to a 32-team, 7-day event in which I and my support staff basically take up residence inside the RWJBarnabas Health Arena on the campus of Toms River High School North.  It’s been a true labor of love and one I look forward to each and every winter.

My children grew up knowing dad was gone Christmas week so if they wanted to see him they had to either watch or work the tournament and they did right through their college years.  My wife Jane who certainly had the right to complain that we never had a holiday vacation decided that rather to fight it she would join it and for the past several years has worked every day in the ticket booth.

So why in the middle of October am I bringing this up?  The WOBM Christmas Classic is just another victim of the coronavirus as the 37th annual will not take place this winter.  The NJSIAA released schedule guidelines for the winter season on Tuesday which will not allow for the playing of any multi-school events and include a strict limitation on the number of games played each week and for the season.  Bottom line: no holiday tournaments.

For the first time since 1983 I will wake up the day after Christmas and not be heading to a gym. Well not the kind I’m used to.  To say I’m disappointed would be an understatement but disappointment is what we’ve all come to live with in the year 2020.  Be assured though I plan to come back bigger and better than ever.

There will be a 37th annual WOBM Christmas Classic just delayed by a year.