2020 season lost to COVID-19; MHSAA to make final ruling Wednesday

With the fate of high school athletics already hanging in the balance due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Governor Tate Reeves ordering schools to stay closed throughout the remainder of the semester is essentially the kiss of death for all spring sports. Gulfport High School Athletic Director Bryan Caldwell said, “Well, unfortunately I think the Governor’s decision was inevitable. I think it’s the right one in terms of public safety. But as far as athletics is concerned and our student-athletes, I’m disappointed and frankly I’m sad.”

The Mississippi High School Activities Association held out hope as long as possible, but now it’s only a matter of time. The MHSAA Executive Committee is scheduled to make its final decision on Wednesday. According to MHSAA rules, the suspension of athletics and activities will be in place as long as schools are closed. “Well, I appreciate the MHSAA waiting as long as they could to make the final decision. And I know for a fact that they had come up with contingency plans of what we might be able to do had we been able to return to school in mid-April.”

The previous suspension of all competition through April 17th would have given new life to the spring sports with unfinished business. Instead, it’s a lost 2020 season for the likes of baseball, softball, powerlifting, golf, tennis, track and field, and archery. So, now what? “Well, I think it’s the million dollar question that a lot of coaches have on their minds right now is what does this look like moving forward? I received a text from our head football coach this afternoon asking how this affects the fall sports, and I don’t know the answer to that. I don’t think anybody does.”

Fall sports have every reason to remain optimistic about a relative return to normalcy when things get to that point, but it’s hard to say the same for the thousands of seniors affected by this decision across the state. “Well, the worst part for me is the affect that it’s had on our senior class. I don’t think I appreciated that when this first happened. But then as it became more and more apparent that we were not going to be able to finish out our spring sports seasons, it really hit me right between the eyes that it’s over for that group of kids.”

On average, the grim reality that is about 93 percent of those out-going student athletes won’t get the chance to play at the next level. Without the closure that comes with Senior Night, wearing this experience as a badge of honor is the only next best thing. “Well, I think it’s easy to be philosophical about this and tell them they’re learning a very valuable lesson about perseverance and bouncing back, and that’s all true, but it still doesn’t take away the hurt. They’re a part of history and they’re going to look back and be able to tell their kids – like our great, great, grandparents talked about the Depression – we were a part of unprecedented circumstances. And we battled through it.”

Categories: Local Sports, Sports

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