Winter sports contests begin with one fan per athlete, no visiting fans

January 12, 2021

Side door - I’m about to wade into the hot tub of indoor sports coverage. I take photos and call my own shots. Speaking of shots, I’m eager to get vaccinated but will wait my turn unless a healthcare worker leaves a side door open. Last week, I was inside the Cape wrestling room snapping photos of an intrasquad scrimmage. Everyone was mask compliant and doing their best. It turns out mask wearing is easy compared to social distancing because whether it’s a wrestling room, a basketball court, track or swimming venue, contested sports require the competing athletes to be within spitting distance of each other. 

Delaware live sports - Benny Mitchell and Scott Kammerer with 302Sports will be livestreaming the Sussex Central at Cape Henlopen wrestling match at 6:15 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 13. Just go to to check in and set a reminder on your computer. And check out the team pages to see sports schedules for all Delaware schools. 

No visiting spectators - Sounds like a good rule for the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, but clamping down on high school sports attendance seems more the national focus. The Henlopen Conference basketball teams will play a 14-game conference schedule with home and away games within the division. And the boys’ and girls’ varsity squads will play on  the same date at the same venue two-and-a-half hours apart. The NFHS Network (pay for subscription) will livestream most of the games, but I cannot vouch for its reliability and dependability. 

Old school - Back in the Little Big House double-decker, doubleheader days of Cape varsity basketball, it was the girls’ game followed by the boys’ game. The girls were good. I know coaches Ralph Bayko and Tom Finnegan put up multiple 20-win seasons, sending teams into the state tournament. And yet the crowd arrived late, mostly showing up for the second half of the girls’ game to get a good seat for the boys’ game. Fans do what they do and like what they like – most are not into the egalitarianism of community fandom. And so schools split sites on the same night, using JV games as the undercard. The best game last season at the new Big House was on Jan. 31, the top-ranked Conrad girls at Cape. The Vikings won 58-53 behind Abbey Hearn with 19 points, Dania Cannon with 18, and Morgan Mahoney with 13. Carlin Quinn, Mehkia Applewhite and Ella Rishko were also prime-time players in that game. Fans saw what may have been the best girls’ basketball team ever to play for the Vikings. I wrote “may” – now argue among yourselves. 

School first, sports second - Get good grades, knock down solid SAT scores, apply to the schools that have a major you would like to pursue, and then match it up with a sport you’d like to play and go find some free money. Just because a college coach pays attention – “We will save a spot for you” – doesn’t mean the student-athlete should frame his or her entire life around the moment of that “committed” relationship. 

Shell shock - A term coined after World War I. Now it’s generally labeled post-traumatic stress disorder. After a weekend of six NFL playoff games, I am shell-shocked, hyper-attuned to sudden loud noises. I rock and lift off the couch for snack attack forays into the kitchen. I see too many players injured and carted off the field. The combatants are just plain mean. You have to be hyper-aggressive to inflict pain in a game in which the fans are cardboard – some are even babies with binkies. I play mental acuity games without using Google to see if I can list the six teams that lost. I can do it; can you? The next step is to list who plays whom in the divisional round. There are eight teams still alive.  

Snippets - Browns at Chiefs (-10), Bucs at Saints (-3), Ravens at Bills (-3), Rams at Packers (-7). The founding fathers of fantasy football go back to 1962, but contemporary leagues began about 1990. I have never played, not wanting to use up my fantasy energies on stats from a football game. I’m not sure how DraftKings works. I just know it involves gambling, and I have no intention to head down that road, knowing it’s an addiction based on lying that destroys lives, just like all the other addictions. Now for my third tankard of morning coffee. Go on now, git!  

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