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An unprecedented year for sports

Xs and Arrows

This column is simply historic. Cherish these pages for it is my hope that something like this will never happen again. It's the first issue of a new year and normally I would be recalling the greatest local sports moments of the previous 12 months with eyes on the future. But, for the first time in modern history, nothing happened in local sports in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdowns of sporting events. It's hard to pick a best moment out of a lot of nothingness.

The year 2020 gave us about two-and-a-half months of local sports, it included a disappointing end to what was pegged to be a potentially-historic season for Tehachapi High School girls basketball following a loss early in the CIF playoffs. After that, it all went downhill. Coronavirus swept in, the remainder of the Spring 2020 season was scrapped after just a few games and after that it was nothing more than cancellations and delays.

Tehachapi Little League never threw a pitch, Tehachapi Youth Football never completed a snap and AYSO soccer never scored a goal. Silver-lining, if you are a subscriber to the "everyone gets a trophy" culture, then congratulations, you are all "2020 Undefeated Champions." Better order some t-shirts. If you are more realistic, this past year was unprecedented, not since 1935 has a calendar year gone by without a single Tehachapi High School football touchdown being scored. This will mark the longest stretch ever in between games, when or if we see football in the next few months or more realistically in fall of 2021. What an odd time.

I can't help but take a pragmatic view on the next 12 months in front of us with the realization that this will get better but potentially slower than we would like. We lost everything on the local sports scene in 2020 so this means we are poised for an even better return in 2021. This does not mean there will not be more cancellations. I feel for the spring sports like baseball and softball which were wiped out last year and show little promise of returning due to state-mandated restrictions and COVID-19 case numbers. Even a new year doesn't appear to correct their impossible reality, that two years of competition might be wiped out. Unfathomable a year ago, reality today.

There certainly is a lost generation of local sports athletes who either missed the pinnacle of their career or missed out on invaluable development time. It's one of those impacts we will be dealing with for the next few years to come. We won't simply snap back into "normal" in 2021. As much as we all wanted to put the train wreck that was 2020 in the rear view, we have to face 2021's reality. It's starting in a disadvantaged position.

But, the bright side is, there is ground to be gained. During my short prep wrestling career I would prefer starting from the disadvantage position in my matches because I felt I could do more damage and earn more points from that spot. I felt better working my way out from under a problem than trying to preside over and control that problem. Did it work every time? Of course not; there were plenty of times I regretted that tactic, but in the most memorable of instances, it paid off. My hope is 2021 is one of the memorable instances where athletes have the opportunity to turn a disadvantaged position into an improbable comeback.

It is not just the athletes that have that ahead of them. The local fans, parents and families impacted by these sports lockouts should be more eager than ever to return when the veil is lifted. No more complaining about "cold" football games, "long" car rides to tournaments or "time off work."

Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at [email protected]. Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.