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Sports and the graduation of the Class of 2020

Please let high school sports return

Granted, Battle Mountain's Dani Barajas doing a cycle kick for a goal isn't your average sporting moment, but we do long for return of a mundane high school sporting event.
Rex Keep | Daily file photo

High school was a miserable four years for me, so it was a real shame that I couldn’t make my 30th reunion on Zoom earlier this month. And my college experience — all seven years of it — was an even greater disaster.

So, under the category of, “irony can be pretty ironic,” I cover schools and get into the spirit of graduation season.

With our six schools starting to walk (or should I say, drive, in the case of Vail Christian on Saturday; points for creativity there), a few thoughts.

Don’t take anything for granted

Schools shut down for COVID-19 on March 13 as did our high school sports scene. We retreated to our homes and watched more Netflix and other streaming services than could possibly be healthy.

For the record, I did not watch “Tiger King,” likely making me one of the few people in the United States not to do so. No judgment is cast here. We all did what we had to do. I rewatched all seven seasons of “The West Wing.”

Like many, I also took in “The Last Dance” on ESPN. I think Jerry Krause came out of it pretty well. I also think, in some ways, Michael Jordan is a very disturbed person. I was waiting for the instance in which someone took all the green M&Ms out of a bowl when His Airness was a kid and M.J. used that as motivation to drop 50 points on some unsuspecting team.

Apparently, the border between greatness and neurosis is a thin line.

The point — and surprisingly, there is a point — is that during the past two months, we have all had our worlds turned upside down. Who knew that going to the grocery store could be such a stimulating experience?

I remember thinking about how exciting it was to take a walk around Nottingham Lake one day. Wow, there’s a lake at Nottingham Lake. Hey, there’s another person 50 feet away from me. Good times. By mid-April, I was ready to cover a junior-varsity game of tag.

I ache for all the students, seniors in particular, who saw their school year come to halt outside of virtual learning. No sports. No school plays. No proms. No “all the silly things you do when you’re in high school.”

As the header indicates, good gracious, let’s not take anything for granted again. I don’t know how I got up in the ungodly hours of the morning to trudge off to San Francisco University High School way back when. But the thought of whatever class — in person — was your first-period subject probably seemed tempting by mid-April.

And, yes, that goes for sports as well. We hope that things will be back to “normal” come the fall or as normal as the new normal is. The upcoming athletic seasons are going to be special merely for the fact that they hopefully happen. (Personal note: Please, please let them happen. I need something to do. I have no life.)

When you’re at a fall practice and the coach has you do an extra lap or repeat another drill at the end of the session and you’re tired or simply not in the mood, remember the spring of 2020. Sports are a privilege, so do that extra lap or drill with gusto.

As a sports writer, I vow not to take a volleyball match, especially one that goes five and kills me on deadline, for granted. I still reserve the right to kvetch about the rating-percentage index.

Here’s to the teachers

Parents, I don’t doubt for a moment that you adore your kids. Of course, they are the light, or lights, of your life. (My parents originally planned to have two children but ceased after me. I’d like to think I was simply all the adoration they could handle.)

Of course, one of the upsides of COVID-19, if there are upsides, is that you’ve been able to have more quality time with your offspring, especially if they’re seniors and going off to college next year.

And if one takes an honest assessment of the situation, you also wouldn’t mind your kids getting out of the house and having some time for yourself. (Again, I adore my mom and miss my father, but there’s a reason I live 1,000 miles from San Francisco.) Be honest, people.

Summer vacation is fun for the family, but parents do pop the champagne or do the commensurate happy dance when the school year rolls around. Therefore, let us all appreciate the entire educational system that nurtures, educates and generally helps you with your children.

Yes, doctors and nurses are rightly the heroes of the hour, but teachers are right up there also after the past two months.

And that goes for all the coaches who are simply teachers in another venue. Be it the absence of the NCAA Tournament, the NBA, the NHL, Major League Baseball or high school sports, athletics are a part of our culture, and high school coaches make it happen on this level.

Again, when we hopefully return to a “new normal,” show some love to those teachers and coaches.

I hope to see you all this fall.


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