OPINION: The Spring We Never Had
Standing on the sideline of a spring high school football game two Fridays ago, one year after we had no prep sports at all to attend, was a strange feeling. I found myself pondering how much things can change in a year as I looked back, as well as forward.
In the rear view were painful memories of doubt and uncertainty. Week after week of postponements led to the official cancellation of the high school spring season by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association on April 21, 2020 due to COVID-19. While likely necessary with how little we knew for sure about coronavirus at the time, the announcement provided an anticlimactic end for an entire class of student-athletes.
A spring without sports felt like a spring without green grass and sunshine. A season often symbolic of hope and renewal did not feel the same without the crack of bats at the diamond, firing of starting guns at the track or clinks of drivers on the tee box. What followed after a shut-in spring was a summer of racial tension, a fall of political strife and an isolating winter. As the grass greens, the sun shines and sports return this year, that long-awaited renewal of hope feels like it has finally arrived.
When watching professional games as a fan this year, any disappointment over a call or shortcoming for my team has been muted by the memory of this past spring. Frustration has been replaced by gratitude, as each opportunity to simply cover a game, attend as a fan or watch on TV has been placed in greater context.
This spring, let us perhaps pull back a bit on “act like you have been there before,” if only for one year. As this last year taught us, you will sometimes never know when the last time becomes the last time. While humility and sportsmanship should always be maintained, let us approach this spring with a heart of gratitude for every opportunity to lace up cleats, drive to road games and experience the season of hope again.