This From the Sidelines column appeared in the March 18, 2020 print edition of the News Journal…
Wow, where do I even begin?
I’m sure that I won’t be able to say anything here that hasn’t already been said during the course of the past several (awful) days, but I will attempt to gather my thoughts and offer up something for you, our loyal readers.
First of all, thank you. Thank you for reading these words right now, whether it be off of a printed page, or on a computer, tablet or phone screen. We at the News Journal appreciate our readers very much, both in the good times, and in the bad.
With that being said, let’s talk some sports for a minute. Obviously, things are very much different than what we all had envisioned just one week ago. At the beginning of last week we still had an NCAA March Madness basketball tournament on the horizon. We were still going to have NBA games on television. We were still looking forward to Major League Baseball’s Opening Day. We had NASCAR races, golf, hockey, soccer, and of course, we were just days away from the official start of the KHSAA’s 2020 baseball, softball and track & field seasons.
In a matter of days, however, we have seen one cancellation or postponement announcement after another, and now we have virtually nothing on the calendar when it comes to upcoming athletic competitions. There are many events that are hoping to find reschedule dates, but with the never-ending flow bad news still coming at us from all sides, who knows if we’ll see ANY games or contests take place in the foreseeable future?
Chances are good that some other kind of major announcement will take place between me writing these words and you reading them. The barrage of information has been relentless, and in some cases simply impossible to keep up with.
So, that’s where we are. This global pandemic has pretty much brought things to a screeching halt. You can have your opinion on whether or not all of this has been warranted. You can speculate on the existence of a political component to the whole thing. You can make all the toilet paper jokes you want on social media, but the fact of the matter is we’re all enduring a hardship together.
My thoughts and prayers are with the sick first and foremost during this trying time. If you are currently ill, please follow the advice of the medical community in order to take care of yourself, and to help prevent the spread of this disease to others.
Other than the sick, I think my heart breaks the most right now for the student-athletes across this country who are being robbed of their chance to compete, especially if those student-athletes happen to be seniors. I think something is in the works at the college level to help seniors gain an extra year of illegibility, which would be great, but I don’t know what could be done, if anything, for high school seniors.
As of this moment, the KHSAA spring sports season is still set to resume on Monday, April 13, at the conclusion of an ongoing mandated dead period for all athletic activities. My fingers are crossed that things will only improve between now and then, and these young men and women will get the chance to have a season. Monday’s announcement by the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics cancelling all spring sports through the end of the current academic year has me very nervous about a similar proclamation being made at the high school level in the near future, but for now I am doing my best to remain positive, as difficult as that may be.
Speaking of that announcement by the NAIA, my heart also goes out to all of the University of the Cumberlands athletes who have suddenly lost the opportunity to play for conference, or possibly even national titles later this spring. The news must have been devastating to receive. I can only imagine.
Equally devasted are the winter sports athletes at UC who were set to participate in national championship events recently, but who also lost their chance because of this terrible pandemic. And let’s also not forget about the high school basketball players that missed out on their chance to play at Rupp Arena in the Sweet 16 this year. There have no doubt been many, many tears shed over these missed opportunities, but again, let’s keep the hope alive for brighter and better days ahead.