There was much debate over whether to have a fall sports season or not amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
While state officials sacked the fall football season, moving it to a potential spring season, many local districts opted to have those fall sports that represented a low risk of transmission, including soccer, field hockey and cross country.
Under normal circumstances, our area would have a host of teams and individuals now competing for league, sectional and state honors — but those competitions have largely gone by the wayside, leaving those who pursue athletic excellence with mixed feelings: Grateful to have been able to play and compete along with a tinge of sadness of what could have been as the fall season simply wound down.
We applaud those athletes, teams and coaches that masked up and soldiered on under these difficult circumstances —
demonstrating a spirit of togetherness that was not just palpable among individual teams but among rivals. Sportsmanship and respect were as evident as excellence on the playing field — forged in a season few will forget.
It is easy to consider athletics a luxury, but there is little doubt that sports have a wide range of physical and mental health benefits. Good coaches know this and often work as diligently on such things as team bonding and cohesiveness as they do x’s and o’s.
We join in cheers with those lucky spectators (with competitions limited to two spectators per participant) who were able to witness the games in person, but give a cheer as well to those teams, schools and volunteers who found creative ways to bring the games to those unable to attend whether via livestreaming or Twitter updates.
What the winter may bring in terms of athletics is still up in the air.
The state has given the go-ahead for some low-risk sports, including bowling, swimming, rifle and skiing; however, basketball, volleyball, hockey and others remain in limbo, awaiting further guidance.
One thing that they have going for them is the resounding success of the fall sports experience. Coaches, athletes and communities not only complied with the requirements but did so with no reported transmissions between school athletes.
We may be unable to crown any sectional champions, but it is clear that there is no shortage of local winners.