FORD: Sports leagues near and far face uncertainty
What an incredible run it was.
The Lady Falcons from Forest Lake Christian showed what can be accomplished when a group of student-athletes commit to a goal, a style of play and each other.
Led by a tight-knit and dynamic group of players along with a charismatic head coach, the senior-laden squad powered to their third straight Central Valley California League title. They then soared into the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship game after dominating wins in the first two rounds. Facing Valley Christian, the team that beat them in the 2019 title game, the Lady Falcons rose above their competition and clawed out the program’s first Section title since 2005.
“I’ve never had a group that so consistently, whether it was a game or a practice, worked as hard as they did to improve,” FLC head coach John McDaniel said. “They carved out a unique identity of defense and strength. They are so tough mentally and physically … Just an amazing group of girls.”
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Two more wins later and FLC was into the California Interscholastic Federation NorCal D-VI tourney title game. They were set to face No. 1 seed Laytonville in what undoubtedly would have been a hard-fought and fitting championship game.
That’s when FLC’s dream season came to a grinding halt. First the title game was postponed for two days due to COVID-19 concerns, then the contest was called off altogether when the CIF pulled the plug on its boys and girls basketball championship tournaments last Thursday due to COVID-19. The decision ended the Lady Falcons’ and about a dozen other team’s run at a divisional state title.
What could have been?
What will be?
Turns out the canceling of the CIF State Basketball Tournaments was just the beginning. As of today, almost all athletic competition at every level has been halted. From professional leagues all over the world down to the local Little Leagues, play has been suspended as the sports world does its part to slow the spread of the virus.
Is it the right call? Yes.
Is it a brutal reality for athletes and fans? Absolutely.
Last Friday afternoon, the Nevada Joint Union High School District closed all public schools until April 13. With the mandate comes a suspension of all athletic activities as well. So for the local high school teams, all organized practices, gatherings, workouts, meetings, banquets, fundraisers or any other team events are suspended until mid-April.
High school spring sports being affected by the stoppage include: baseball, boys golf, softball, track and field, boys tennis, co-ed tennis and boys volleyball.
“I’m sad for the athletes, coaches, parents, community and especially the seniors,” Bear River Athletic Director Scott Savoie said. “I look at our spring sports athletes and I feel their pain.”
There is still hope the high school spring sports season will resume. The CIF State Office met with the 10 section commissioners on Tuesday and decided to hold off on any cancellations for now.
“While the time may come when we have to cancel postseason events, today is not that day,” a statement from CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said. “In anticipation of further guidance and directives issued by federal, state and local government agencies regarding COVID-19, the CIF has not determined the future of spring sports events at this time and intends to reconvene with the 10 section commissioners on April 3 to revisit this issue.”
Such is the case for most organized sports.
The NCAA’s biggest athletic conferences have called off their 2020 spring sports entirely, but the NBA and NHL both plan to return and finish their respective seasons in an abbreviated fashion. They’re just not sure when that will be. The MLB and MLS have both postponed their seasons, but plan to get back to work as soon as possible. They’re just not sure when that will be. Local rec leagues as well as youth baseball and softball leagues have suspended their seasons for now and have tentative plans to return at some point in April.
It’s a wait and see situation and we’re all in it together. All we can do is hope for a swift, and socially responsible, return of sports at all levels.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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