I couldn’t take it anymore. Had to get away. Where they’re playing real high school sports. Honestly, the last live event I covered for any newspaper was a BMX state qualifier over in Yucaipa ⎯ back in July.
Complaints ran aplenty, too, on that event ⎯ especially when some 500 onlookers and participants jammed that place … without masks.
There was an Olympian, Connor Fields, on display that day.
That was three months ago. Big news around these parts is when school district officials allow high school workouts to take place. Not even games. Or full scrimmages. Instead: Masks. Social distancing. All health safe factors in place.
So I took off for Utah.
On Thursday night, Oct. 15, a Utah high school rivalry game was brewing between Riverton (5-4), which was taking on nearby Herriman High (4-5).
It was the final game of the season. Early-season starts, say in mid-August, keeps a season from turning into snow-filled playoff games. This game was played in an upper 40-degree range.
There was familiar sideline chatter.
Coaches screaming at everyone ⎯ players, trainers, referees, you name it.
Those kids were hitting, hard at times.
Quarterbacks took snaps, looking desperately for open receivers ⎯ then running for their lives.
How I miss it all.
One MaxPreps photographer, Terry Cullop, told me that Herriman played the nation’s first high school game this year. On a Wednesday night.
“I took a picture of the kickoff,” said Cullop, whose camera rips off 150 shots a game. “Some of the newspapers picked it up.”
Soccer, meanwhile, had reached the playoff semifinals. Cross-country was running strong.
Enough about Utah. Except for this: A growing number of schools were quarantined because of you-know-what. One high school football team missed three games ⎯ not because they tested positive, but three straight opponents were quarantined.
Bluntly: Your local educators are watching that stuff, too.
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Cal State San Bernardino athletics, via the California Collegiate Athletic Association: Distance learning continues until May. I guess it leads one to believe Winter and Spring sports are threatened with cancellation.
Similarly, some fundraising is taking place to support Coyote athletes who are living off campus, training and ready to go ⎯ but need assistance.
Not a good sign.
* * *
Some comments were offered up at a mid-October school board meeting in San Bernardino ⎯ parents, a coach, plus some athletes.
“It keeps us as students in check with our grades,” said Richard Radias, “and physically active, which is a positive thing.”
In other words, sports help keep them active.
Returning to practice, he said, “can keep kids from doing drugs and staying away from the negative that is in our cities.”
Nothing there, I don’t think, that would keep an educator from opening sports back up. No, we don’t want drugs. Staying away from the negative is a positive sign. But there’s still a health hazard.
Joshua Castro, a student, wants to know when the district will have a plan of action regarding sports.
Onetime San Gorgonio High assistant football coach Chris Chaddick sees overall grade point averages dropping and confidence waning. It does no good, he says, to see the negative physical and mental effects on kids that’s predictably struck since sports have been postponed.
I get it. COVID-19 cases, though, are on the rise. San Bernardino’s still in Purple. Considered a danger zone.
Indian Springs defensive end Giovanni Garcia says he’s “worked his butt off” for his upcoming senior season.
We could go on and on. Nothing there, though, that blunts COVID-19 threats.
Anything useful, bring it on. This is a time for articulating brilliance, not cliche-ridden guilt tripping.
Yes, yes and yes … kids are working hard. They want to play. They want to go to school. In many cases, they’re begging to go.
We question whether they’re working hard enough when coaches aren’t supervising those five-mile runs, those up-and-downs, those laps in a pool.
If people are coming down with COVID, health hazards are still a concern to school officials ⎯ not to mention state governors.
Get kids in class. Once that happens, sports will be next.
More bluntness: I’m growing to believe there won’t be any sports when prep play is supposed to resume after the New Year.