Once 5 p.m. rolls around in the spring, I’m usually hearing the words “Batter Up” or “Runners stand in your lanes.”
Right now, however, it’s “One-Adam 12, One-Adam 12, a 211 in progress… One-Adam 12 handle code three.”
Instead of covering a high school sports event, I’m watching reruns of my favorite TV police show from long ago.
When you’ve been in the newspaper business for 40-plus years like I have, you may have a tendency to get a bit complacent and think you’ve seen it all.
Along with all my sports assignments, I’ve covered fatal fires and automobile crashes, been on a number of drug raids with law enforcement officials, tagged along on a manhunt for a homicide suspect and even covered the murder of our county sheriff way back when.
So, I had seen it all, right?
Then came the coronavirus.
During a normal spring season, I would have been covering baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse and track and field for the past month.
Not this year.
Things actually imploded before our winter sports season was completed.
All of our high school basketball teams had been eliminated in the post-season tournament by the time things started to really get crazy.
However, we still had Marysville High School wrestlers Lincoln Heard and Erryl Will, along with Jonathan Alder’s Reece Chapman, in limbo.
Those grapplers were left waiting to see whether they could complete their seasons at the state tournament.
The event remained in the postponed phase for a while before it was eventually canceled.
Spring sports athletes were shut down shortly after their preseason practices began.
Nobody was permitted on school grounds to work on batting, pitching, relay race handoffs, tennis strokes or lacrosse passes.
The anxiety mounted for players, coaches, parents, fans and yes, even sports writers, as the delay took up the month of April.
The Ohio High School Athletic Association had set a date of Saturday, May 9 as the start-up for spring sports, if the school shutdown had been lifted a week earlier.
As everyone knows, Governor Mike DeWine extended the closure through the end of the semester.
That, in turn, put the “kibosh” on spring sports.
We have never experienced the type of shutdowns and business closures we have seen around the country and world since the month of March.
About the only thing I can remotely compare this situation to – at least sports-wise – from my earlier newspaper days is North Union’s 1976-77 winter athletic season.
Some people may remember the school district shut down in November of 1976 after an operating levy failed during the general election.
The district had run out of cash and at that time, had to close everything down until new tax money was received after the first of the year.
The district had to hold classes on some Saturdays in early 1977 and, if memory serves me correctly, had to go a little deeper into June in order to complete the number of days required for a school year.
There were no on-line classes at the disposal of students and teachers in those “dark ages.”
State law was changed shortly after that, prohibiting schools from closing in that manner.
The first month (December) of the 1976-77 season for NU’s boys and girls basketball squads and wrestlers was postponed.
Events were crammed together in January and February in order to complete the campaigns before tournaments got under way.
It was an exhaustive time for those Wildcat athletes.
This virus pandemic, however, is different. It’s created havoc for school districts and athletes across the state and around the country.
A number of winter sports seniors could not finish their careers due to the shutdown.
Many more lost out on their final spring sports seasons.
Additional school activities such as graduations and proms aren’t going to happen in the normal sense.
Some folks are starting to worry how or if the 2020 fall sports season will be impacted. No one knows for sure.
With all that said, am I now truly permitted to say I’ve seen it all?
Sure… unless something even more bizarre comes up down the road.
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