A Season Lost

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Have you ever wondered what life would be like without sports? Unfortunately, I believe we now know. And it isn’t fun.

No NCAA basketball tournament. No traditional Major League Baseball Opening Days. No professional basketball or hockey playoffs. No Little League, American Legion or youth soccer. The Summer Olympics have been delayed for at least a year. And the list of community cancellations and postponements is nearly endless.

If you’re a high school sports fan, the disappointment runs even deeper, and it strikes much closer to home.

The interruption of school has played havoc with the remaining winter sports championships and of course spring sports regular and post seasons here in Louisiana. Months of expectation and intense training appear to have been wasted for hundreds of high school sports teams.

And depending where you live, the dream or scoring a decisive victory over an archrival or competing for a state championship has been permanently surrendered, while its now a “wait ‘til next year” for freshmen, sophomores and juniors. But for approximately 7,000 plus high school Louisiana seniors who participate in a spring sport, this is more than a lost season. It’s the end of an active sports career. The NCAA estimates that, depending on the sport, only about three percent of all high school athletes go on to play a sport in college.

The senior first baseman who picked up his/ her first bat when they were 5 years old will never have the high school opportunity to swing it again. The champion runner who has diligently trained to shatter the high school state record may never compete in the 800 meters again. The young woman or man who was elected captain of her/his tennis team will never know how deep into the tournament their squad could have gone. But here’s what will happen, and it’s significant. That same first baseman has learned that baseball and softball are about far more than trying to hit a ball with a stick; it’s about a group of young men and women from vastly different backgrounds coming together as a team.

The sprinter has discovered that if a person has enough determination, barriers once thought impossible can be broken. And the captains of the tennis teams will take the leadership skills they learned as a student-athlete and apply them to everything she/he does for the rest of their life.

Their seasons-indeed, their athletic careers-may be over, but the character those senior athletes have developed because they participated in education-based high school sports lives on. It will encourage, guide and positively influence communities here in Louisiana for the next generation and beyond. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education.” To those LHSAA student-athletes who graduate this spring, you may have lost your senior sports season, but you have gained both intelligence and character because you participated in high school athletics.

In dosing, high school seniors, thank you for the contribution you have made to your team, your school, your community and to the LHSAA, and thank you for the shared sacrifice you are making right now. Best wishes for continued growth and success.

Eddie Bonine is the Executive Director for the Louisiana High Scholl Athletic Association. 12720 OLD HAMMOND HIGHWAY· BATON ROUGE, LA 70816 PHONE 225.296.5882 · WWW. LHSAA.ORG • BEYONDTHEGAME@LHSAA. ORG