Dreams dashed: no do-over for prep athletes in the Class of 2020

It was this weekend two years ago when the virus hit the fan. And while everybody had their own interests and issues to deal with, it was just as tough of a time in the athletic world.

Yes, the professional and college levels felt the pain, but they found a way to recover. Pro games were suspended, but contingency (re: financial) plans had been in place. College seasons were lost and it certainly caused monetary issues for schools, but the players were able to get the missing 2020 year back in eligibility (if they chose to).

You know who really took the biggest hit? The high school athlete. The boy or girl in a spring sport who lost a chance to have the season they had always looked forward to. On the weekend of March 13-14, they got called off the field or court or course or track and never returned.

Looking back on it, there were a lot of “what were we thinking” modifications in sports made that seem so ridiculous today. (Closing tennis courts? Golf courses that didn’t allow touching of the flagstick?) So I’ll go ahead and say it: two years later, are we sure this was the right call?

Let’s try to not get too political about it, but have you looked at the recent charts about Covid-19? The drop in cases – or whatever measuring stick you’d like to use – has been precipitous, to say the least.

But if you compare that to what it was two years ago, it’s still greater (or about the same) as March, 2020, when we were calling off games and then canceling seasons.

Yes, I understand that we know a lot more now than we did 24 months ago, but I can’t help but think of the high school baseball player or golfer or track star who never got a chance to be a state champion. Or maybe even a chance to just start on the varsity.

This was their year. Then it wasn’t.

Two years ago on a Saturday morning, local high school baseball tournament officials were busily using a hand counter because only 250 people were allowed at the park (including players and coaches). That same day, teams were throwing together “Senior Day” recognitions before tournament games. One local school had a “Senior Day” at one field in the morning and another at another field in the afternoon.

Neither one of those was on its home field.

There was the thought that after two weeks or so, high school athletics would pick up where it left off. The LHSAA waited as long as possible to “officially” call off all the sports seasons, but it was inevitable.

Two years later, you can’t help but wonder if that was the right decision. Before you say it, I know all about the “one life saved” rejoinder, but that can always be taken to any extreme in any circumstance.

If you go strictly by the scientific data, games were being called off in 2020 under conditions that are less (or basically the same) than what we have today, when no one is thinking that a baseball bat needs to be wiped down after trip to the plate. Look at the chart — there was no significant, lasting rise in cases until well into the summer.

About the same time those state championship rings would have come in.