Hoping for sports success doesn’t come at the expense of others
Changing the locks - Gates and doors around schools and fields are locked most of the time except to certain “key people.” The key ring clasped to the belt loop riding the hip is a sign you have made it. But keys have a way of proliferating to the subset “friends of key holders,” and it ripples out from there, so once in a while all locks are changed and the converted master key doesn’t work anymore. The same goes for the back door to the website that keeps track of points that lead to tournament seedings. I feel like an operative from the Secret Service of sportswriters. My movements are hampered by places I can’t go and data I can’t know. I think by Sunday night we will all know the tournament brackets for baseball, softball, and boys’ and girls’ lacrosse. The next decision is whether home field sites are approved by the games committees of the individual sports. Grass? Like regular grass? I don’t think so.
Collateral damage - Schools have rules that put a two-hour limit on sports practices, but many athletes finish a practice or even a game, then go on to another practice or game for their travel team. Most sports managers, coaches and parents don’t know the difference between a meniscus and a hibiscus, a ligament from a tendon, a contusion from a charlie horse, an MCL from an ACL, an achilles from Uncle Willie’s or a hammy from a whammy. The point is that prolonged playing over many hours and games increases the risk of orthopaedic injuries that require a long recovery time. You can bet your torn labrum and hip flexors on that one.
Hard to believe - I rarely used the word “pandemic” or even “COVID-19.” The phrase for me was “Rocking the Rona,” and as I look back to the shutdown last spring all the way to tournament time a year later, I can’t believe that Delaware has gotten it done with all sports enjoying seasons. The credit is to be shared by all decision makers and stakeholders. Cape has won state championships this 2020-21 school year in Division I boys’ cross country, Division I field hockey and Division I wrestling. Cape baseball, girls’ lacrosse and boys’ lacrosse all have a shot when tournaments start next week, but the field is littered with landmines, which is the way it's supposed to be.
The Commitments - They were a working-class band from Dublin who sang ’60s soul music, including Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. The soundtrack for the movie of the same name, based on a novel by Roddy Doyle, was fabulous. Covers of “Chain of Fools” originally by Aretha Franklin, “Take Me to the River” by Al Green and “Destination Anywhere” by the Marvelettes were my favorites. I was thinking of an album called “The Decommitments” for athletes who verbally commit, then quietly decide, “I don’t think I want to do that.” My own experience as a college athlete would make a good board game; in fact, for many it is not a straight-line journey.
Root against - Fifteen years ago I skipped a Y Ball championship game that 10-year-old granddaughter Anna was playing in at the old Rehoboth gym. I skipped because I couldn’t see myself wishing other 10-year-olds missed layups and didn’t want to endure their annoying parents. On Tuesday, I was at Milford to watch the Cape girls’ lacrosse team go Chuck Berry and Roll Over Milford, and somewhere is a Sure Crop joke. Granddaughter Lina is an eighth-grader on the Milford team. Her cousins Anna, Lizzie, Katie, Mikey – and throw in Ella and Lulu – have scored more than 400 goals for Cape, but in the first half, Lina scored against Cape and I was happy for her and me. Later in my camera frame, Lina was trying to roll to the goal guarded by Kelly Bragg. I was hopeful, but could never root against Kelly Bragg in a million years. Later, Lina came from behind and surprised goalie Anna Lopez with an underhanded/backhanded scoop shot that was ticketed for the back of the cage until Anna stopped it, annoying me for a split second before I whispered “great save” because Anna is my buddy.
Snippets - “I don’t know nothin’ bout tomorrow, I’ve been lost in yesterday.” - “Killin Time” by Clint Black. I took photos of Aryanna Briddell at Sussex Central on May 12 signing to play softball at Shippensburg. I was out the door at 11:30 and had another signing at 1 p.m. for David Wootten, going to Mansfield for track and another at 1:30 for Jacob Snarsky, who will play lacrosse at Lebanon Valley College. I drove over by a pond and watched resident geese and goslings hang out just like me except they weren’t covered by potato chip fragments. Old coaches and writers can hang like tree sloths upside down in the rain forest of their memories just waiting for something new to happen. Go on now, git!