We’re living in strange times due to the ongoing Coronavirus situation, especially when it comes to sports.
As best that I can remember, in my lifetime, sports have never been completely shut down like they are now. All high school, college and professional sports have been brought to a halt and about the only sports-related things you can do nowadays are hunt turkeys and fish a little. There is much to be said for hunting and fishing, but the absence of sports like baseball and softball is being felt by many.
Our local high school seniors certainly find themselves in a bad spot. Most of us who played high school sports at least had the opportunity to mentally prepare for playing what would be our last game, whether it be the last game on a regular season schedule or a playoff game. Our local seniors though probably didn’t think that they were playing in their last high school game ever when things were brought to an end by the Coronavirus a few weeks ago.
I remember that sports were briefly postponed in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Most events were postponed for a week or rescheduled for later in the season. Most people during that time welcomed the return of sports because they felt that it would bring back a sense of normalcy to the country in the wake of the events in New York and Washington, D.C.
There have also been times in the past when high school sports were postponed by flu outbreaks. These periods were brief and did not result in a complete shutdown like we are seeing now. I know that this happened at least once in the 1950s, and it has likely happened at other times as well.
During World War II, most of your high schools didn’t field football teams or other athletic teams. The main reason for this was that many boys left school to join the military or to help farm due to the big labor shortage that was hitting the country at that time. Intramural athletics was a big thing at this time, but few schools, except maybe those in big cities like Mobile or Montgomery, fielded true sports teams like football, basketball and baseball.
High school sports were totally different in the early 1900s when the flu pandemic struck the United States during World War I. There were a lot fewer high schools back then and most high schools didn’t field their first football teams until after World War I. For example, Evergreen High School (which was actually called the Southwest Alabama State Agricultural School at the time) didn’t field its first team until 1919.
In the end, in light of current events, I hope all of this blows over before the start of next football season. If you think about it, football season will be here before you know it with preseason practice to start in August. In the meantime, everyone take the proper precautions because that’s what it’s going to take for things to get back to normal.