Area high school sports teams have suffered through one of the worst spring seasons in recent memory, with late April snowstorms and relentless rain postponing and now canceling many competitions.
With some playoffs slated for just three weeks away and the Michigan High School Athletic Association rules prohibiting more than three competitions per week in some sports, the black Sharpie has become a coaches’ best friend.
Girls’ tennis regionals kick off on May 19 and lacrosse postseason tournaments are right on their heels. Frustrations continue to rule the day, as athletic directors have to figure out how to allot funds and buses, and short notice is given to ticket checkers and gate keepers at the various venues on any given day. The lower levels of the sports— the freshmen and JV—are finding their games canceled so the varsity squads can play on their semi-dry fields. Just this past weekend, more shifts from home to away games took place as area fields are still too waterlogged and flooded to allow play. Baseball and softball diamonds remain tarp covered with makeshift drainage trenches dug. The tennis and track teams have the easier time of it, as their playing field is hard surface and doesn’t involve dirt. Although, jumping into the long jump pit is a bit trickier and the shot put and discus fields are also pretty soft.
The phone-call tag and scheduling bingo continues again this week, as each school tries to now align its league competitions, bowing out of non-league games and tournaments just to get in the required league contests. It’s enough to make grown men and women cry.
This has been one of the soggiest, coldest, windiest springs I can recall in seven years. Weather officials report we have five more inches of rain than we usually get this time of year. I think back to 2004 when Lapeer and Genesee counties were pounded with rainstorm after rainstorm and we held tight to our red pen each day as we ticked off each canceled or postponed game.
It’s a nightmare from where we sit too, as day after day we find just a handful of games can be completed. There are so many teams who we haven’t even laid eyes on yet this season, and one month in the season, that’s just bizarre. We have no action shots, no game stats—nothing. The kids are all bored and complacent, hanging out in gyms, firing golf balls at the curtains in auditoriums, or running the hurdles in the halls. That just doesn’t make a good photo, although amusing, but we want to get outside just as badly as the kids.
The good folks at the
MHSAA in Laning know all too well the troubles that dog the schools and sports teams every day. Tournament time is a mere four weeks away for softball and baseball, and golf, soccer and track are just days past that. The MHSAA has to police its membership and make sure that everyone is following the rules. That puts kids and coaches at a very big disadvantage as their daily routine has been upended more times than a stack of child’s blocks.
Balls just don’t react the same on hardwood and concrete floors as they do on grass. And, the kids react differently, too. There is no substitute for the playing field, regardless of the sport. What a hassle. The errors that are showing up in game situations is just a mere carryover of fielding balls off hard surfaces for weeks. Now that the kids are playing outside, those balls are not bouncing, but coming to a dead stop in soft dirt and grass.
So, what’s a team to do? So, what are all the newspapers and TV studios doing? We carry on with Plan B, Plan C, and if necessary, Plan D for the day. Just as it’s no option for the kids to do away with their entire season, we have sports sections to put out. When we have so many cancellations, we have no copy, no photos, and very empty pages. And, just like the bored kids, the readers get weary of seeing so many empty dugout and flooded golf course photos. Boring, they tell us.
We feel everyone’s pain and miss the action just like the kids and coaches. But, like mom always says…this too shall pass; it has to…and soon!