What do I think I know this week? Not much of anything. I’ve never been more uncertain in my life.
Seriously, I don’t even know if we’ll be playing sports this week … or for the next month. SCISA has already shut down athletic events through April 3, and SCHSL is expected to take similar measures, youth sports are on an indefinite hiatus, and USCB has canceled the remainder of its spring season as we try to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus and prevent even bigger disruptions to society and the economy.
Even the RBC Heritage Presented By Boeing — the one sporting event by which we can set our watches in the Lowcountry — is in serious peril. Every PGA Tour event leading up to it, including the Masters the week prior, has already been canceled or postponed, leaving the Heritage next on the chopping block. With the Centers for Disease Control recommending limiting gatherings of more than 250 people for the next eight weeks, it looks like we will have to prepare for a year without the Heritage.
So this might be it for a bit in terms of live sports coverage. If we all end up hunkered down for the next two, four, six or eight weeks, we’ll find some way to keep you entertained, whether it’s with flashbacks, interviews with coaches and athletes, or some other evergreen content to help us pass the time.
Until then, sanitize your hands and dig into this week’s edition of “Five Things I Think I Know” presented by Coligny.
- It’s a tough time to be a senior student-athlete.
The world watched in real time last week as college basketball players and wrestlers across the country came to the retroactive realization that they’d played their last game without even knowing it. What a devastating development. These athletes have poured their hearts and souls into their sport since they were young children, and for many it disappeared just like that. It’s quite possible the same is about to happen to high school athletes around the country. Here’s to hoping this isn’t the end of spring sports season, but it sure doesn’t look good.
- What happened at Hilton Head High’s softball field on Friday was special.
No, I’m not talking about the 27-18 final score, though that was pretty wild. Like many teams reckoning with the reality that this could be the end of the season (though we won’t know for sure for a while), the Seahawks decided to make Friday’s home game against Battery Creek their Senior Night. Just in case. But the Seahawks’ seniors felt for their Dolphin counterparts, who might not get to play another home game, so they invited them to participate in the festivities, too. Hilton Head High’s players even went the extra step of decorating the Dolphins’ dugout with navy and gold balloons. “Just an amazing, thoughtful gesture,” Battery Creek coach Bob Layman said, accurately.
- The Showcase will go on.
I dealt with my own difficult reality this week when I made the decision to postpone the Lowco Basketball Showcase to a later date to be determined. But we *will* find another date. In the few days since that decision, I have only grown more confident it was the right call. We now have three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Beaufort County, and with testing resources lagging, it is highly likely there are many more undiagnosed cases. The time for “social distancing” is upon us, hence the cancellation of sporting events and other large gatherings. The hope is to avoid a massive spike that overloads the healthcare system and causes lasting damage to the economy. In sports terms, it’s time to play defense. Or as golfers would say, “take your medicine.”
- Losing this year’s Heritage would be a huge hit.
Sure, the RBC Heritage Presented By Boeing is the biggest party of the year, but it’s also a major economic driver for the region. Needless to say, if the event is canceled, or even if it’s played without spectators, it will have a huge economic impact on the Lowcountry. Local charities benefit greatly from the tournament’s proceeds, and civic groups — including sports teams — count on the tournament for much of their fundraising for the year. This community pulled together and saved the Heritage when it was without a sponsor, and if we are going to survive a year without the Heritage, we’ll have to do it again to help pick up the slack.
- This is yet another reminder both of the insignificance and the importance of sports.
In the grand scheme of things, they’re just games. Not life and death, which is what a huge number of people in the United States and around the world will be facing if we don’t get the spread of this pandemic under control. And yet, sports serves to distract us from the things in our lives that are sometimes a little too much to bear, and boy could we use something like that right now. Shutting things down is the right thing to do, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Take solace in the fact that whenever this ends, we will once again be able to escape into the thrill of competition and the glory of victory. And maybe we’ll have a new appreciation even for the agony of defeat.