Mark Clark: Sports interrupted, what do we do now?

Mark Clark: Sports interrupted, what do we do now?

I never dreamed of a day when we would have no sports at all. This is a sad state to be in. No sports, no happiness. No sports, no life. Well, it is not that bad – it’s bad, but not that bad.

Like I said, I never dreamed of a day when we would have no sports. I dreamed of a day when there were no professional sports, but not without high school and college sports.

The absence of sports will cost me money, but as long as this COVID-19 coronavirus, or whatever you want to call it, ends by August, I will be just fine.

Why August? You know why. You know that my favorite sport is high school football. Without high school football to begin each high school year, why attend high school at all? It has been that way for me for over 50 years – from the first high school game I attended until the last one I attended.

Just a week ago, I dropped by to talk to Central coach Patrick Nix to talk a little about how I feel about high school football. I told him right off that if they played high school football year-around, I would be in the stands or the press box or on the sidelines each and every week. I would never take a vacation because I would already be on vacation each week I got to see the local teams play on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

That was not the real reason to drop by. I wanted to ask when the spring game would be played. He said Central would not have a spring game, but rather a scrimmage between the Red Devils themselves. I told him that was just as good. I asked when the 2020 schedule would be released and he said that very day. It was later that day. And, we discussed what changes we would like to see in the Central uniform.

Coach Nix said he would like to see Central use a helmet with the script Central that was on the side of the 1993 Red Devils state championship team. I told him I would like to see a helmet with just a Red Devil on the sides without the words “Red Devils” cluttering up the sides.

If you have not seen, Central has added a new road uniform for next season – white jersey with red pants with the Jumping Man logo on both – the Michael Jordan logo. Just what does Michael Jordan have to do with football? Basketball, I understand. Baseball, I understand. Football, it is a mystery to me. The uniforms look good, but they could do without the Michael Jordan logo. Central will most likely wear them in an early road game next season, but not the Smiths Station game. That is what I am hearing right now.

Anyway, back to the point of this column. What do we do without sports? Our high school seasons have been interrupted by the COVID-19 coronavirus, or whatever you want to call it. The Alabama High School Athletic Association and the Alabama Independent School Association have both suspended spring sports for the next 2.5 weeks – until April 3 at the earliest. We may not be able to start then. Will the associations give our teams time to get back into shape? How long will that be? And, will our teams head straight into our “count” games – the ones needed to determine which teams make the playoffs? I do not expect the AHSAA to require our local teams – Central, Smiths Station, Russell County and Glenwood – to play all of those games in one week. Spring sports championship series will have to be adjusted. They could be completed after school lets out for the summer. It has happened around these parts before. My question then would be, will senior players not be allowed to receive their diplomas with the rest of their class? Will anyone be able to require the kids to return to play for their teams after they graduate? It could get dicey for some teams.

Graduation ceremonies could be delayed, but is that fair to the seniors who do not participate in sports activities? No it would not be fair to those seniors. It would also not be fair to the kids that do participate in spring sports to not be able to graduate with their classmates. And worse, it would not be fair to the seniors to not be able to play for a state championship title.

I do not know how the AHSAA or the AISA will play the championship games or meets or matches, but I do know it is important for the athletes to play those events. It means a lot to them and their communities. Winning state titles is never unimportant. High school sports are the sports that are the glue to hold communities together. The kids deserve to play these playoff games or meets or matches. Our communities deserve to see them played. Hopefully, the COVID-19 coronavirus will go away soon and everything will be back to normal. We can only hope that is the case.

Mark Clark is a local sports writer for The Citizen of East Alabama.