I got into a pretty moronic argument in a Facebook group the other day. An internet genius—which is only slightly better than an internet tough guy—argued that sports and music should not mix. Having spent the better part of my life in the sports world, while also being a pretty big fan of rock music (and a horrible guitar player), I pontificated that the genius was incorrect and that music and sports go hand in hand.
Obviously, I changed his mind and we left the discussion both edified and satisfied.
Actually, neither one of us dented the other’s stance, because that’s not how internet discussions work. That jerk did actually say something to me that struck a chord. He said that growing up when he played sports there was no music, just the games or practices being played. While that existence must have been sad, it did in fact remind me of what the high school athletic teams have gone through this fall to some extent.
As the high school teams squared off in “two weeks to flatten the curve, plus seven and eight months,” I couldn’t help but notice that there was very little pomp or circumstance at the games I attended, and I attended a lot of them. Between Falmouth, Mashpee and Sandwich coverage the past six weeks or so I believe I saw somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 35 soccer and field hockey games, plus some cross-country meets as well. It was certainly a lot, but that’s been my life for better than two decades.
I was ecstatic to be back out in the fresh air, especially the last few weeks when November thought it was June. My own personal normal is being at games, watching kids compete while taking notes and lots of pictures and Tweeting at an alarming rate. As the great Mark Henry once said, “That’s what I do!”
I missed the fan sections, though. With the exception of a couple of really annoying soccer players in Carver who stuck around after their game against the Mashpee boys to heckle the Mashpee girls’ team, I hardly ever noticed that there were people in attendance who were not playing in, coaching or officiating the games that I was at. Most schools allowed close family members to attend the games, but for the most part they watched silently, like it was a tennis match. Barely a peep could be heard. There would be appreciative applause after a score by the home team, and the occasional “Go (insert name of person that you’re related to),” but for the most part the only sounds to be heard were those of the games being played.
It was not normal, but what even does that word mean anymore? I really wish I knew. I keep hearing about “a new normal.” The old one was just fine for me.
After the last game of the soccer season was played I pulled aside a couple of players to talk to, and coaches, and we talked about the last game. I had the pleasure of coaching Falmouth High’s Eben Delinks way back when in Falmouth Youth Baseball. He was an outstanding outfielder and base runner. I wish he stuck with the game, but that’s another topic for another day.
I asked Eben about playing in his last game and before he answered, he smiled. He had a mask on, but I’ve become pretty good at reading eyes, and his eyes were happy. You see, playing soccer makes him happy. As good as a baseball player as he was, he’s a better soccer player and that game gives him joy. He had fun playing one last high school game with his friends. His team lost, 4-1, but he still smiled. So did I.
You see, the MIAA is meeting this week to discuss whether or not there will be high school sports played in the winter. I’m hopeful that there will be, and that they will start sooner than later. Everyone has an opinion and their own personal theories on how the games will be played, if they are at all.
I can’t help but think about the track runners, hockey and basketball players that just want their turn to get out on the field and make things happen. The year 2020 has sucked—I’m sorry, that’s the most appropriate word I know to describe it—and sports, for the athletes, has made it a little more bearable.
Just like that guy on the internet, I’m positive that I won’t change anyone’s mind with these sappy words. People that think that everything needs to be locked down and shelved over the winter will continue to wave that flag. People who want to open everything up will continue to want to open everything up.
Me, I want to see the games carry on. I want to see a corner three-pointer rattle through the bucket. I want to see a dangle, followed by a snipe, concluded by a celly. I want to see two sprinters lunge for the finish line and the winner determined by a photograph.
Even if they won’t allow anyone in to see the games, I still want to see those things happen.