EMPTY FIELD

The softball field at Waterloo Firemen’s Park, home to the Waterloo Pirates and Waterloo Youth Baseball, sits vacant as the high school sports season is on hold due to the CORVID-19 pandemic.

Unprecedented.

Never before has the sports world, or world itself, been so affected by what we now know as a world-wide pandemic known as COVID-19, or the coronavirus.

The sports world — from the professional level and all the way down to the high school level — has come to an abrupt halt … and that includes local high schools Marshall and Waterloo which have suspended all sports for the time being.

On Friday, March 13, Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order closing all public and private schools, and with it suspended all school spring sports activities extending from March 18 until Monday, April 6.

Coaches may provide individual workouts virtually, but shall not encourage or organize their team assembling to practice.

Things started to come down the pike late March 11 when it was discovered that Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The NBA announced it would be suspending the season, and as the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings were about to take the court, they were summoned off ending the season for the foreseeable future.

It hit home even more the morning of March 12 when the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) sent out a press release stating that spectators for the State Girls Basketball Tournament in Green Bay would not be permitted, and only a handful of tickets (88 to be exact) would be distributed to the eight teams participating on Day 1 of the three-day tourney.

It was inevitable when late Thursday night the WIAA made the announcement no one wanted to hear: they were cancelling the remainder of the State Girls Basketball Tournament and both the boys basketball sectionals and state tournament scheduled March 19-20 at The Kohl Center in Madison.

To have your season, and in some cases careers, cut short is just unthinkable. Being a former athlete myself, and all athletes before and after me up to this point, has some sort of closure to our high school and or college careers. Unfortunately, some didn’t this year.

The biggest news, at least in my opinion, was that the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament — MARCH MADNESS — would be cancelled. No brackets to fill out, no wondering where and when the Wisconsin Badgers would be playing. No gathering with buddies and sampling appetizers and beverages. And following were cancellations of The Masters and rescheduling of the Kentucky Derby, usually run the first Saturday in May, to Labor Day weekend, and the start of Major League Baseball moved to May at the earliest.

Here is what some of the high school, college and professional dignitaries had to say:

Dave Anderson, Executive Director of the WIAA: “I want the student-athletes and their coaches to know that your school leaders, the WIAA Executive Staff, all our committees and the Board of Control have done everything imaginable to try to provide and preserve these opportunities for you. However, we want and need to be responsible in helping the global and state efforts to stem the tide and spread of this virus.”

University of Wisconsin Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said: “It goes without saying that our department is taking the COVID-19 situation very seriously. The safety and well-being of our student-athletes, staff and fans is our highest priority. We fully support the Big Ten Conference’s move to cancel conference-related sports events and activities for the remainder of the school year.”

Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner: “Even if we’re out for a month, if we’re out for six weeks, we can still restart the season. It might mean the Finals take place in July or late July. Just my feeling was it was way premature to suggest we had lost the season.”

There will be some sense of normalcy, that too is inevitable, but the question is when? When will there be professional sports? When will high school sports resume practices and get ready for the start of what only will be another wild spring season?

Stay tuned, but for now stay healthy!

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