Sunday, December 10, 2023

Kvelve's Comments: Coronavirus wrecks sports schedules

| January 20, 2021 12:00 AM

I’m a sports fan.

Now some of you may insert the word “nut” after sports and that’s okay. The word "fan" is derived from the word “fanatic,” which when altered to “fanatical” becomes, as Webster’s New World dictionary states, “overly enthused or overly zealous.”

Maybe so if you don’t like sports.

But I do. I’ve lived it, breathed it, played it, coached it and now write about it, something I always wanted to do before radiology turned my head.

Part of my job with these newspapers is to report on things, to tell a tale about a person, place, thing or event.

This week was a challenge to my zealousness to say the least as it relates to the sports world in which I reside.

Thanks, or no thanks, to the ugly little virus sweeping the nation…don’t get me started on that”…the sports scene, even here in sparsely populated Montana, has changed in ways I never imagined.

If you are looking for a smart investment, DO NOT invest in any enterprise that has to do with publishing sports schedules.

Games and times change by the hour, and in many cases, get cancelled altogether due to “Covid” concerns.

Case in point: It was no doubt a harbinger of things to come, a not-so-subtle warning that “Kvelve, things are a-changing.”

I’m referring to my first sports coverage outing of the year way back in 2020. It was mid-September and while school officials struggled to figure out the new normal of a pandemic, pre-season practices and games were dropping like a moon-happy guy’s pants on New Year’s Eve.

What was here one minute was gone the next.

I remember being so excited that I finally had a football game to go watch and write about. It was to be the Plains Horsemen versus the Flint Creek dudes, in Philipsburg.

Live action, pads on pads, mano a mano. And, in all the years I’ve had the absolute pleasure of living in Montana, I had never been to Philipsburg or driven along Flint Creek.

It was a hot and smokey day, courtesy of forest fires mostly from other states. The sun created a bizarre orange haze as I turned onto Interstate 90 west of Missoula and headed for my own personal uncharted territory adventure.

Yippee skippy I was thinking, the game I love the most is about to unfold right before my eyes and I’m going to be paid to watch and write about it.

I pulled into Philipsburg after being awed by the scenic splendor of the drive from I-90 south. Saw several places along Flint Creek, a pristine, wandering stream that parallels a good part of the drive. There would be places along that creek (pronounced “crick” in these parts), where I could soon return to satisfy another sporting passion, fishing.

At any rate, I pulled up to Philipsburg High School a good hour before kickoff.

Something was amiss, as in how come, with only an hour to go before the game starts, I’m the only one standing on the sidelines of the deep, green grass? Why was there nary a soul in the ticket booth? Why did I not smell hot dogs or popcorn.

Then, the sign of the times emerged from the brick school building adjacent to the field. Didn’t get his name but he had a whistle around his neck and a clipboard in his hands and a look on his face that portrayed someone who’s girlfriend just left him, took his dog and keyed his prize truck.

“You aren’t from Plains are you?” the obvious coach asked, his head bowed. “The game got cancelled a couple hours ago.”

Yeah, right, I thought. Another joker thinking he was gonna pull the leg of an obvious out-of-towner.

“Nope, we had a kid come to school with flu-like symptoms and the game has been called off.”

Fast forward to this week, after that experience became more the norm.

I have a plethora of schedules from all six of the high schools in Sanders and Mineral County for which I try to cover as many games and sports as I can.

They aren’t worth wrapping sucker fish in. So many changes have been made I’ve taken to emailing the school athletic directors (now known as “Activities” directors) the day of the scheduled game. They serve only as scheduling guides.

So it was no surprise at all that after learning by accidental hearsay about a wrestling match in Superior Thursday, I found out Friday morning that a game I assumed was a Covid casualty between Plains and Noxon was indeed on that very evening.

Saturday I was headed to Thompson Falls to cover basketball games not between the Blue Hawks and Deer Lodge as the schedule says, but between last minute-substitutes including the Florence JV team for the boys and Wallace, Idaho for the girls.

I arrived in town at about 12:30 p.m. for the 1 p.m. boys game, but there was no bus, no cars, no anybody and a sign taped to the door which said game vs. Florence cancelled.

I thought hmmmm, maybe the girls game is still on so I waited until 2 and still no one around, dark gym.

I drove back to Plains and just as I pulled into Plains I saw a school bus with a load of kids and Idaho plates headed toward Thompson Falls, likely the girls team from Wallace!

Nope, I said, ain't going back! I'm going home, probably fall asleep and get the stats later!!

I don’t know what they pay these ADs, or coaches for that matter, but this year especially, it ain’t enough.

But before anyone thinks I’m complaining, I assure you I’m not. I was taught long ago to “assess, adapt and overcome.”

And to have earned the title of fanatic, I’m okay with not knowing where I’m going until I’m actually going.

Just blow the whistle, toss the ball and I’m cool.

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