Where's our local sports season?
Xs and Arrows
January 16, 2021
As recent events would suggest, and as some of us forewarned, 2021 isn't all sunshine and roses, and it is painfully obvious we are in need, now more than ever, for the distraction and unifying comfort of local sports. Unfortunately, as we enter the time for restarting those contests as planned out by the California Interscholastic Federation months ago, that vision is not reality.
Instead, parents and coaches are having to explain or at least attempt to justify the "guidance" out of Sacramento that is leaving our kids off the playing fields at both the high school and other intermediate levels. Meanwhile they flip on the television and see college football and basketball as well as a variety of pro sports, many of which are being played right here in California. Yet somehow it is unsafe for the prep athlete, but not their college counterparts.
Answering that question is simple while at the same time criminal. Money. Institutions rely heavily on television revenue from the NCAA Men's basketball tournament and college football bowl season to operate annually. March Madness was canceled in 2020 and these schools can ill afford to miss two years of that revenue for their athletic departments. I get it from an economics side, but at the same time the message is clear to high school and other youth athletes, you do not make enough money for your schools to justify having the opportunity to compete. So much for teaching fairness.
Unfortunately, as COVID-19 drags on fairness is not the only lesson being missed by our young people. Much of the foundation they will base the rest of their lives on is passing them by without the slightest glimmer of hope. For example, I did not learn about leadership, management or teamwork because of something written in a book or taught in a class. Every one of those lessons was ingested on the competitive fields here in Tehachapi. Whether it was the importance of getting up when I was knocked flat, knocked out or pinned, there was something to be said by pressing forward through pain and failure. I have had employers who I drove mad because I did not subscribe to a management strategy penned by a best-selling author. My experience in competition is everything I will ever need to lead people.
So, one can see while our young athletes are fed up, Tehachapi joined several other communities across the state this past week to protest and demand our athletes return to the field of play. If college-aged students living on their own in apartments with little adult supervision can compete while adhering to COVID-19 protocols, so can our prep athletes who are living at home under parental care. Someone must call out nonsensical and unjust rationale for limiting our local sports activity. I am happy to do so. You cannot point at college athletics here in Kern County like Cal State Bakersfield and deem their competitions "safe" while at the same time claiming high schools located just miles away, and not traveling near the distance for competitions as "unsafe." Those claims have more flaws in them than the Governor's tiered system, or is it colors now? I am understandably lost and confused as are many others.
Hopefully, the concerns are sent to state lawmakers who can find some sort of reasonable guidance to restore competition as soon as possible instead of kicking the problem down the road every few months until it is simply too late and another school year is lost.
Wins and losses are one thing, but we are losing a generation of young people void of life lessons on the field of play. The ability to deal with adversity is being lost, as well as the ability to overcome problems, work with others and become better people in general. Those skills are not being instilled via virtual learning, and I would hope as students start heading back to campus, their interactions on the field and courts will increase as well. We cannot rely on the internet, virtual meetings and online courses to generate our future leaders; enough is enough, it's time to suit up, blow the whistle and play ball as safely as possible.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more content at http://www.CostelloeMedia.com.