OPINION — I am happy that the high school and college winter sports season is underway.
Not many people thought the fall sports season would be played in its entirety, and I have to admit I was one of the doubting Thomas.
I kept having flashes back to the 2020 spring sports season that almost made it to the finish line, but did not quite get there.
The girls’ state Class B tournament was canceled on the second day, and the Class A and Class AA girls, along with the Class B, Class A, Class AA, and men’s and women’s college March Madness never saw the light of day.
There was baseball in the summer for legion baseball teams, but the Spearfish Sasquatch saw its 2020 season go up in smoke due to the pandemic.
My doubts going into the fall sports season was because it seemed every school was doing their own thing, changing plans with a moment’s notice.
Such as Black Hills State moved football and volleyball to the spring, but managed to play three games of an abbreviated schedule.
I talked to activities directors and coaches who were frustrated that things changed on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, but they took the proper measures to do to ensure the fall sports season was completed.
Even though there were a few hiccups along the way, the schools administration and coaches, the athletes, the parents, and the fans managed to get through the fall sports season.
Going into the winter sports season, I am more confident that the season will be completed than I was about the fall season.
With that being said, I am still taking a cautious approach because COVID-19 is still present and wreaking havoc.
The Black Hills State men’s basketball team had five of its first six games of the season canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
High schools had to cancel or shift games on its schedule due to the pandemic.
Starting Jan. 2, high school and colleges will begin the meat and potatoes of their schedule.
I urge everyone to not let down your guard.
Keep taking the same precautions you did during the fall sports season.
If you are sick, stay home.
Please wear a mask, especially when you are out in public.
Try to avoid large crowds, but if you can’t, wear your mask and practice social distancing.
Constantly wash your hands, and if possible, keep a small bottle of hand sanitizer on you at all times to help keep your hands as germ free as possible.
Even if you do that there is still no guarantee the winter sports season will be completed, but it will increase the odds tremendously that we crown state wrestling and basketball champions in 2021.
The winter sports season will look different than it has in years past.
Schools will offer a limited number of seats at sporting events.
There will be no general admission tickets sold.
Those fans in attendance will be assigned sections to sit in, not like previous years where you could sit wherever you wanted.
Look for signs tell you where your designated area to sit is.
Athletes not competing, as well as coaches, will be wearing face masks.
There will be no handshakes before or after the sporting event.
Even though the winter sports season is going to be different this year, the important thing is the athletes will still be allowed to compete.
With a vaccine on the way, hopefully we can get a handle on the COVID pandemic and keep kids playing sports and having fun, and not have to worry about catching the virus, and fans can once again pack sport venues to cheer on their favorite team.
With the year coming to a close, I gladly say good-bye to 2020, and looking forward to better things in 2021.
Hopefully we will be saying good-bye to the COVID-19 pandemic for good, and things can start to return to normal again.
For you Spearfish Sasquatch baseball fans, I recently talked to Eric Schmidt, the Sasquatch owner/general manager, and he is confident there will be Sasquatch baseball in 2020.
The schedule should be coming out in about three weeks.
My only New Year’s resolution is to keep doing my best to provide local sports to our Black Hills Pioneer readers.
Everyone stay safe as you ring in the new year, and be smart when it comes to COVID-19.
See you at the sporting events!