SPORTS

Taking it as it comes

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 11/4/20

For a week in which most contests were postponed, last week was quite eventful. Let's start with Gov. Gina Raimondo's announcement regarding local sports. Last week, she made a statement saying that many of the cases in the state's recent surge in

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SPORTS

Taking it as it comes

Posted

For a week in which most contests were postponed, last week was quite eventful.

Let’s start with Gov. Gina Raimondo’s announcement regarding local sports.

Last week, she made a statement saying that many of the cases in the state’s recent surge in COVID-19 stemmed from sporting events at all levels. Whether it be youth or high school.

For the remainder of this week as well as next week, fans and spectators will not be allowed to attend high school games while other indoor youth sports leagues will be shut down for the time being.

Of course, no one wanted to see this. It is certainly a shot of pessimism that no one wanted to be subjected to. However, it is also a dose of reality. Although we have been able to get back out there, we are still very much battling this virus and will likely continue to fight it for some time.

I feel for the kids, especially the seniors, as well as their parents. Now, many schools made a fantastic decision by scheduling senior nights early in the season in the event that some sort of complication occurred. Unfortunately that is now the case, but luckily, most teams have been able to honor their seniors and their parents for the annual tradition.

But either way, to have to tell kids that their families can’t watch them compete, or to tell a guardian that they must drop their child off and not be able to enjoy it either, it’s a tough pill to swallow, I’m sure.

Sports are such a beautiful celebration for so many families in the country.

Take a look at former Hendricken standout football player and now Michigan standout Kwity Paye, for example.

Paye is now one of the most recognized rising stars in college football and is certainly going to be drafted next spring. ESPN did a special on him this past weekend that focused on his relationship with his mother.

He grew up in poverty and his mother had to give all of herself to ensure that he could play football for the Hawks. Now, he is in college on a full ride and intends on making sure she lives a life of luxury once he is drafted.

It was a wonderful, inspirational story of dedication, resilience, and most of all, family.

Those are the types of stories that are so moving and sports are oftentimes right in the center of them, like Kwity’s story.

For local athletes to have to put those special moments on hold is a shame. I know that it is only for two weeks (for now), and I do not blame the governor for her decision based on the disturbing trends in the numbers, but it still is a gut punch and likely a step in the wrong direction.

Let this be a reminder to us all. We need to continue to be cautious. Take all the precautions advised by the government to help stop the spread of this virus, be smart, be sensible. We are the solution to this problem. From an athletics standpoint, it really is up to us all if we want to get sports back to what they once were.

I am confident that we will be back to that at some point, but we still have a ways to go.

What does this also mean for winter sports?

I’ll be honest with you, I am optimistic that some sports will be played this winter, but I am no longer feeling that way when it comes to spectators.

Raimondo has already expressed her concerns regarding hockey considering so many cases have stemmed from youth hockey leagues and indoor rinks. Other sports seem like a longshot as well.

Wrestling for example, I struggle to see a scenario in which the state will allow this. Having a sport that is 100 percent based on contact between competitors, where they are breathing and sweating on each other? I love covering wrestling but at this point I’d say it is a pipe dream.

I feel like basketball and hockey should be feasible, especially if fans are not allowed. I am not advocating for that, but if it is between that and nothing at all, of course I would take the former.

Swimming is a strange situation as well. Swimming, you’d think, would be a pretty easy sport to pull off safely. However, there are some pools in the state such as McDermott in Warwick that are still closed which could pose a major problem with scheduling.

The Rhode Island Interscholastic League will be attempting to outline a winter sports plan here in the next couple weeks. I’d be lying if I told you that I was expecting a plan that excited us all, but I am at least optimistic that sports of some way, shape or form will be played.

As far as youth sports are concerned, that is a whole other animal.

Seeing high schoolers facing and sometimes getting sick with this virus is terrible, but to potentially see a small child? That would be devastating.

I am hoping to see winter sports leagues be played at the youth level even if the consequence is no parents in attendance. Sports are vital to our youngsters, especially with so many districts doing virtual teaching. To essentially take away in-person schooling as well as afterschool sports? Not good.

But, as always, I am all for what is safe.

If another month or two passes and the numbers are still on the rise, I have to agree with strict measures and the potential of cancelling sports. I would hate to see it and am not expecting it, but we just have to wait and see.

Let’s end this column on a bright note, shall we?

At the end of the day, we still have sports. Next weekend will be the state championship for cross country and we are closing in on the playoffs for other sports. Raimondo made it clear that her goal is to see this season through, and taking away fans was a way to try to stay true to her word.

I am not a political person so this sentiment is strictly sports-based, but I trust the governor when she says she wants to see kids finish the season … and I believe that we will be able to see that happen.

Let’s take this one day at a time and appreciate what we have. Right now, today, we have sports, we have kids out there having fun. Let’s be safe and make it through the next few weeks.

My Pitch, sports

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