I worked in sports radio for years. There was always something to talk about because sports were always going on. I remember the worst day of the year to be on-air was the Thursday after the Major League Baseball All-Star game because, for a 24-hour span, there were no games. No baseball, football, basketball, or hockey. Just nothing.
Heck, ESPN created the ESPY Awards just to be played on that night because it was a sports dead zone. That seemed to be the loneliest time in the sports world……until COVID-19 hit. And man did it hit hard, really hard.
In our neck of the Northern Maine woods, high school athletes are bearing the brunt of this. No baseball or softball being played. Tennis and lacrosse have been shelved for the season, and on the track, there may be people on it, but they are just walking or jogging for exercise (at a social distance of course).
There are no chances to break records, defend championships, or make new memories that could have lasted a lifetime.
For the graduating seniors, the sad reality is they probably will never compete in a meaningful game, meet, or match again. No chance to be the hero or goat, no chance to put on the school colors one more time, and no chance to finish something, that for some, may have started a dozen years ago. It’s sad, but it doesn’t have to define you.
I like to look back on my high school glory days that never really were. In the spring, I ran track and was a decent distance runner for the Foxcroft Academy team. While the team finished the season my senior year, I didn’t. Three meets into the year, I was having pain in my ankle. After a trip to the orthopedist, it turned out the stress fracture I had been dealing with my whole senior year had gotten worse. I was told to rest for up to six weeks, and just like that, my season, and my mediocre competitive athletic career was over. The last meet I ever ran in was at Hampden and it was the last meaningful competition I was ever involved in and that was 25 years ago.
Remember these sage words of advice. Everyone that plays sports will have a last time they put on a uniform. Some of us just don’t know it’s coming.
To the Class of 2020 student-athletes, you are going to have one heck of a story to tell your grandkids someday. And when you’re asked the trivia question of what team won the 2020 spring championships, you can say with a smile, “we all won”….or lost. It just depends if you’re a glass half full person.
The future is your canvas so paint it brightly.
By Toby Nelson