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This stinks

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Scrubbed: March Madness leads long list of canceled sports

Mike Lemcke, from Richmond, Va., sits in an empty Greensboro Coliseum after the NCAA college basketball games were canceled at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in Greensboro, N.C., Thursday, March 12, 2020.

This stinks.

There are plenty of ways to say it, but that’s the one I’m going with. This stinks.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shut down pretty much all professional and college sports. And with Maryland public schools being closed for two weeks starting Monday, high school sports are significantly impacted.

To be clear: all preventative actions are the right call during a pandemic of this magnitude. It’s far better to be proactive than to be reactive and deal with the consequences.

But it’s only human to feel for the high school athletes impacted by these decisions.

The MPSSAA Boys’ and Girls’ State Basketball Championships, scheduled for March 12-14 at Towson University and University of Maryland, were postponed Thursday. Easton High’s girls’ basketball team qualified for the semifinals for the first time since 1994. The Warriors learned the game was postponed as a bus waited in front of the school ready to take them to Towson.

I really, really hope they’re able to play eventually. Easton’s season was wildly successful — the Warriors went 20-0 in the regular season, lost to Parkside in the Bayside Conference title game, but rebounded for three playoff victories. Those girls had their eyes on a deep playoff run all season. It’s so unfortunate that they won’t get to see that come to fruition.

A winner could be crowned, sure. And, as the top seed, there’s a good chance the Warriors would either be declared the state champion or co-state champion.

But they — and you, and I — know that wouldn’t be the same as winning a championship game. And that doesn’t diminish their accomplishments this season. But to hang a banner without the exuberant moment of the buzzer sounding at the end of a championship game win, players mobbing each other, coaches hugging, and a school and fan base rejoicing as the best wouldn’t feel the same. And that’s extremely disappointing.

The school closure will mean the start of spring high school sports seasons are delayed as well. Teams were scheduled to begin real games late next week. Those games are now pushed back, and, given what’s taken place around the country, the entire season could be in jeopardy.

My entire life revolves around sports, so the loss of sports around the country hurts. The cancellation of March Madness flat-out sucks.

But I can’t imagine what those kids must be going through.

Unsure whether they’ll get that senior season to have one last chance. Or that chance to make an impression on their coach and leave their mark. The chance to make a playoff run and hang a banner. All of it could be gone.

Maybe — hopefully — that’s an overreaction. In two weeks, things could return back to normal, and baseball, softball, lacrosse, tennis and outdoor track & field could resume as scheduled.

But in times of crisis, I anticipate the worst and hope for the best. So I can’t help but proactively feel bad for the spring sports athletes who could lose an entire season to this pandemic. Those kids worked hard — many prepared all school year for March 1, when practices began. They would be rightfully devastated if they can’t go out and put that work to use.

Public safety has to be the top priority in a situation like this. All precautious measures are the right thing to do to protect public health.

There are people getting sick with a contagious, dangerous disease, and those people are in my thoughts. But as someone who eats, breathes and sleeps sports, spare some thoughts for athletes — kids — who will be impacted by this crisis as well.

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