It’s generally accepted that an important benefit to youth sports is the character it builds in the participating athletes.
But this time, it’s the loss of sports that will test the character of Arizona’s high school athletes who have just lost a chance to finish the spring sports season.
And that’s especially devastating for those seniors who will be graduating in a couple of months.
The announcement yesterday that schools will not re-open following a two-week suspension to help combat the Coronavirus threat comes like a sucker-punch to those athletes who were counting on the sports activities to resume.
Seniors are always looking forward to their final season of high school sports to be memorable, something they can take with them as they move on to college. But not memorable in this way.
Coaches and players have been hanging on for weeks in anticipation of the re-start of the spring season. The Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) had held off cancelling spring sports activities in mid-March, hoping the schools would be able to re-open by the end of the month.
Governor Doug Ducey and Superintendent of Public Instruction Kathy Hoffman announced an extension of the school closure would run through April 10. But yesterday they pulled the plug, announcing the “cessation of all on-campus learning.” That decision included all school-sponsored extracurricular sports and activities.
“We know this decision was a hard one,” said AIA Executive Director David Hines in a statement following Ducey’s announcement, “but one that was necessary to assist in the well-being of everyone across Arizona. We hope everyone stays healthy and focused on what the next chapter will bring.”
That ‘next chapter’ for the senior athletes begins with re-focusing now on getting recruited. It will be a strange endeavor, since they won’t have statistics from their senior year to use in selling their talents.
But at least the decision to close the schools will give them a head start on that effort, without the distraction of waiting to see whether their season would re-start. Time to begin looking ahead.
Most people would agree right now that cancelling the season is the right thing to do.
But it still sucks.