Starting this piece right now is difficult. I’m trying to rein in my emotions and write a coherent column about something I’ve anticipated would happen over the past three weeks: the cancellation of the high school spring sports season.
Shortly after Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced that state schools would stay closed through the remainder of the school year Thursday afternoon, the Indiana High School Athletic Association followed suit by announcing sports would also be canceled, hopefully only until fall.
While I wasn’t surprised by the announcement, I’ve been taken aback by my reaction to it.
Sure, sports are important to a lot of people, and my livelihood for the past nearly four years has depended on it. But this isn’t about me.
I started following Twitter shortly after the IHSAA’s announcement to gauge reaction from coaches and athletes. I also sent out a tweet directed at the class of 2020, a class of seniors who are dealing with something no other class in my lifetime has faced: a global pandemic.
Obviously the health concerns surrounding COVID-19, and us doing our best to contain and eradicate its spread, are the most important factors in our world today.
If we are going to stop its spread and get back to living like we want to live, everybody has a role. We are in this fight together, like it or not.
Consider yourself a part of a team, whether it be your neighborhood, town, city, state or nation, we have to pull together.
Once we get through our battle with the coronavirus, it’s possible, maybe even likely that this senior class, the class of 2020, will emerge from it as the strongest team of all.
Most of these kids were born in the time surrounding 9/11 in 2001. They don’t know how our society was pre-terrorist attack and have grown up together in the aftermath.
Now, this pandemic has brought an end to their final couple of months of gathering together in schools.
Though everyone will receive their diplomas at some point following the completion of eLearning and online education, it appears the class of 2020 won’t have the satisfaction of walking across the stage, accepting that hard-earned piece of paper from their principal and bringing to an end of 13 years (counting kindergarten) of shared experiences with their classmates.
It doesn’t seem fair. It truly isn’t fair. But this wonderful thing we call life sometimes isn’t fair.
My heart aches for the class of 2020. This unprecedented and historic set of circumstances we’ve all been dealt is being felt by everyone. But short of those dealing with the virus itself, the seniors of this year are being affected the most.
I was moved to tears thinking about these seniors, so many who have had a direct impact on my life as a sports reporter. Selfishly I’ll miss watching their high school athletic careers finish up.
While sadness was much of the theme on social media Thursday afternoon, there was also a good bit of perspective offered.
“Tis’ life. It gets tough sometime,” tweeted Oak Hill three-sport standout Gavin Holz. “But my memories with my class aren’t gonna be blurred by a bump in the road.”
Neither are mine, Gavin.
My hope for the class of 2020 is pretty simple: go out and change the world.
No class in our nation’s recent history has graduated under a global pandemic. That, in my estimation, makes this class of seniors special already.
We can only hope that the senior class of 2020 moves on into their adult lives and writes its own history, and that our world will be better for it.