Extra Points Column: High School Sports May Have Trouble with the Curve
It's becoming increasingly likely that the only curve the state's high school baseball players will be dealing with this season is the one that America is trying to flatten.
Approximately a dozen states have already cancelled their spring sports seasons, including neighboring Pennsylvania and New York. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association continues to hold out slim hope that some type of spring sports season can be salvaged, but barring a swift resolution to the Covid-19 pandemic, it's not going to happen.
Governor Phil Murphy is due to address the issue Friday.
"Various models have been established based on potential return dates that range from mid-May to the end of (June), and leagues and conferences will be given substantial scheduling flexibility," the NJSIAA's said in a statement released last Friday. "Depending on the eventual date of return, a modified tournament may be offered, subject to availability of venues and ability to comply with any health-related restrictions that may still be in effect. At this stage, based on the return date, post-season play could range from a sectional tournament to only regular-season play without a post-season."
The caveat to possible plans is that all competitions would be required to end by June 30.
There's been talk of holding local weekend tournaments for baseball, softball and lacrosse, along with one-day events for track and field, and golf, though that doesn't seem to be worth the time and effort.
The final decisions will be made by the governor, the NJSIAA and the individual school districts, all of which remain closed. Courses for all students in South Jersey have been conducted via Zoom, Google Classroom or some other virtual educational resource.
Unfortunately, no one has been able to develop a realistic way to hold a track meet, softball game or golf match in that realm.
Of course, the entire local sports scene has been in limbo. Boxing won't be back in Atlantic City until the casinos reopen. The area's most popular and successful sports event - the ShopRite LPGA Classic - has been tentatively rescheduled from May 25-31 to July 27-Aug. 2 on the Bay Course at Seaview Hotel.
But it's hitting the high school sports world the hardest. If the spring season is cancelled, it will deprive senior student-athletes from creating memories that last a lifetime.
Take it from me.
My 45th high school reunion is scheduled to be held in 2021. As with our 10th, 20th, 30th and 40th get-togethers, it will provide another opportunity for Lower Cape May Regional's Class of 1976 to relive some special moments from our senior year. For me, it was throwing a no-hitter against Ocean City with the help of fellow Caper Tigers Marty Franco (right field), Karl Umscheid (shortstop), Ray Stout (second base) and others. Frank Smith will recount his tenure as captain of the golf team. We'll sadly recall the track exploits of the late Scott Mericle. Cindy Carpenter and Gail Wilsey will remind everyone how they created Lower's girls track squad. Rita Vernon will be celebrated as the Caper Tigers' top softball player in that era.
It's important to remember that senior student-athletes won't be the only ones potentially losing an important segment of their senior years, however.
No school means no prom, no spring school play, no band concert, no scholarship night, possibly no yearbook and worst of all, the possibility of no graduation.
That would hurt the worst. Losing games, dances and concerts would surely hurt, but the inability to celebrate the end of their four-year journey, to walk across the stage to cheers and receive their diplomas, would be the most painful consequence of the pandemic.
Every high school student would have trouble with that curve.
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