By Tony Hooker
Supposedly, there is a Chinese curse that states “May you live in Interesting Times.”
After the events of the last few weeks, I can truly relate. These are some of the most interesting times in modern history to be sure.
As a sportswriter, I am trying to look at these events through the lens of athletics, at all levels. For major leaguers, the season has stopped, just as it was beginning. Those earning big league paychecks, the players, owners and administrators, will be fine. It’s those players on the fringes, playing for the minor league minimum, who will be hurt by the stoppage. But even their pain pales when compared to the hourly workers who serve as the backbone of the unique game day experience. From the greenskeepers to the hotdog vendors, from the ticket takers to those who are hawking souvenirs, their livelihoods have been threatened. Same with the NBA and the NHL. Thankfully, all the major leagues are taking steps to help their employees, but those who work in the minor leagues probably won’t have the level of assistance that they need.
For college players, the end came way too suddenly. Selfishly, as a long-suffering Illini fan, I was so looking forward to hearing Greg Gumbel call out the University of Illinois last Sunday. My heart goes out to the players and coaches, whose hard work to get the team back to the tournament were washed away by the Covid 19 threat. Baseball, Golf, softball and track and field, all washed away, for the time being, at least.
Finally, there are the high school athletes. The boys’ basketball state tournament. Gone. Here in the river city, a promising junior high volleyball campaign was cut short. Likewise, the scholastic bowl team, who finished undefeated, and were the favorites heading into sectional competition.
Finally, Heath Wilson’s rejuvenated track & field team season is on hold. Recent scholarship signee Liberty Floyd and her cronies will have to wait for now. Same for the VGH Hawks baseball team. The Heritage Hawks softball team was eager to show improvement from their initial campaign after the co-op ended. Last, but certainly not least, the Villa Grove softball girls, who lost only one starter from a 2019 sectional champ, were ready to see if they could take the next step. The season isn’t cancelled at this time, but the uncertainty has to be weighing on Parkland college signees Reagan Cheely & Maris Eversole and their cronies.
We know the reasons and the science behind the decisions that had to be made, but that doesn’t make them any less devastating for the competitors whose seasons have been cut short. All we can do is maintain our decorum and hope that a resolution is quickly put into place. In the meantime, the lack of sports has me at a loss for what to do. I suppose I’ll clean out my junky garage and read a book or something. March Madness, indeed.