June 15, 2021

Ending to 2019-20 sports year bitter, not sweet

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Tonight should have been the most fun night we here in the SVM sports department have on an annual basis.

Tonight would have been our All-Star Basketball Classic, but for the first time since way before I started here at the newspaper – way back in late February of 2000, if you can believe it – there will be no final gathering of some of the area’s best senior basketball players to put the finishing touches on another school year worth of sports.

Usually the ending of another year of prep sports is bittersweet. The sweet part: Some seniors get to play one more game of basketball with other athletes they have maybe only read about in the paper, and represent their school one more time. The bitter part: It’s their last hurrah as high school athletes before heading into the future, whatever that may be.

But this year, as with so many things, the COVID-19 pandemic has made this finish only bitter.

When the coronavirus first hit, nobody knew how much it would affect things, or for how long. We had some discussion about whether we’d be able to have the game; my heart said yes, but my brain said not likely – and that possibility grew dimmer each day, as things dragged on and there seemed to be no end in sight.

On the one hand, I felt like the all-star game would have been something fans and players would really have enjoyed, a little slice of normalcy after the loss of so much time at school and on the playing fields and courts.

On the other hand, would anyone have wanted to risk sitting in a crowd in a gym watching a basketball game? Would the players want to risk illness to play a basketball game?

In the end, it was a moot point, but it didn’t make swallowing the loss of an annual tradition any easier ... and we’ve been doing a lot of coping with that the past few months.

Still, I can offer you high school sports fans one final bonus: an online vote for our male and female athletes of the year. We've narrowed it down to 16 finalists; vote for your favorite at http://shawurl.com/3dii and we'll write a story about the two winners.

Here’s hoping it’s a first step in getting back to normal.