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COLUMN: Rescheduling the schedule

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | September 21, 2022 12:00 AM

It is a conundrum, wrapped in a dilemma and shrouded by a mystery.

Every year it drives sensible people insane, but it has to be done.

Someone has to step up and figure out the world of scheduling, and rescheduling that which was scheduled but had to be rescheduled to make the schedule work.

Thankfully, there are those people out there.

I’m talking about the ancient art of setting up sports events, matching the teams at the right time and place so that one team doesn’t take to the playing field and stare blankly in disbelief at the empty dugout or bench on the other side.

Along the way these folks take on Mother Nature, player injuries, pandemics, lack of referees and a whole host of other causes that shake the well intended, preseason arrangements to their very foundations.

Can’t wait for the big game you’ve been anticipating for the past 11 months?

Take my advice, go on line and double-check the time and place, and even opponent if at all possible.

One of the most aggravating examples of this happened to me two years ago during the first wave of the dreaded pandemic. It was a late summer, if not smokey skied afternoon as I excitedly scrambled into the cab of Big Red and headed down 93 to I-90 to another road that eventually led to Philipsburg. It was there that the first football game of the season matching Plains and Philipsburg was set for about 7 pm as I recall.

Going to the game was not only a void-filling sports evening for this football starved guy, but I had never been to the Flint Creek area and was looking forward to seeing the scenic town of Philipsburg.

I cruised along, no doubt grinning from ear-to-ear thinking about the Horsemen clashing with the Prospectors. Football season was here.

I pulled up to the high school and parked just outside the fence surrounding the strangely quiet football field. It was past the hour of school being done for the day, and even though I was my usual way-to-early arriving guy, an uneasy feeling crept over me as I wandered out onto the long, green grass of the empty stadium.

Then I noticed there was no Plains bus, no Plains players and no Plains fans.

Wow, I thought, they better all hurry up and get here or they will be late.

After standing there feeling more lonely by the minute, I decided to retreat to the comfort of my truck cab and at least listen to some music while I awaited the arrival of the combatants.

On the other end of the parking lot, a door to the school opened and a guy emerged, head hung low, clip board in hand.

No way, was the phrase that began to swirl around in my gray matter.

As the man neared my truck he glanced at the license plate and saw the Sanders County “35”.

“You from Plains by any chance?” the clipboard holding guy asked.

Yeah, I replied.

“You drove a long way for nothing. One of our players came down with Co-vid about an hour ago and we had to cancel the game. We called the Plains coach and caught them near Missoula”.

So, there I was, somewhat embarrassed, but not really because I was just following what the schedule said. How could I have known the Pandemic would rise up and erase a football game? Sadly, that turned out to be just the beginning of things that year as the virus rampaged through the schools and rendered many schedules useless scrap paper.

All that mind-boggling work of getting school A to school B at that day and that time was swirling down the drain of despair. Only being stuck in a major city traffic jam could be a bigger waste of time.

Hair was being pulling out all over the state and nation as schedules were disrupted and re-shaped.

Now, it is happening again. This time it is smoke from these accursed wildfires. Next it will probably be canceled games due to the long-awaiting arrival of E.T.

And I will keep moving along, keep checking the schedule before I go, often at the annoyance of school AD’s (Activity Directors these days, not just Athletic Directors). Hopefully I will have cashed in my “me and the empty stadium” ticket.

It’s eerily quiet standing in ankle deep grass in a town you’ve never been to before, waiting for something that isn’t going to happen.

It couldn’t be true, could it, that Superior, Plains and Thompson Falls all have homecoming games this Friday at the same time.

Go figure!

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