Coronavirus deals sports cruelest blow

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The coronavirus has dealt us a number of blows when it comes to sports. Postponements of some big events such as the Olympics, the Masters and the Kentucky Derby, cancellations of others like the NCAA basketball tournament. Delays and pauses in the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball seasons.

As adults, we can deal with it. Sure, it’s a drag not being able to watch LeBron James or Connor McDavid or Mike Trout. But at some point, those guys will once again return and entertain us.

Then came Thursday and the news that Little League Baseball was calling off its regional tournaments and its World Series. Of the many cruel strokes, the coronavirus has dealt the sports world, this may have been the cruelest of all.

For millions of boys and girls, playing Little League is a big part of their young lives. It’s part of their growing up. And for those fortunate to represent their leagues and communities in all-star competition with the hopes of winding up in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in mid-August it could be the culminations of their athletic careers.

I was one of those fortunate ones. I played all-stars. I managed an all-star team. It was one of the best experiences I’ve had. I still have the trophies 50-some years later from having played.

For 12-year-olds across America, and around the world for that matter, this was their shot. Here was their lone opportunity to be part of something special, to have a memory which would last a lifetime.

And just like that, it’s gone. They don’t get to turn back the clock and be 12 again. It is the ultimate opportunity lost.

If you’ve ever been involved in Little League, you know it’s not just the players. It’s the parents, the grandparents, the brothers and sisters who share in the experience. It’s the fundraising to help get everyone to those regional sites with the hopes of making the ultimate journey. It’s the sacrificing on the part of the parents, juggling work schedules and those of the kids who are not playing Little League to make it all work.

It’s the volunteers who oversee and run the leagues, adults who manage, coach, umpire, keep official score, run snack shacks, maintain the fields, pick up the trash, all to make sure the kids are having a great experience.

And a deep run in all-star play can do wonders for a community. The exploits of the Mountain Ridge Little League team in 2014 which represented Las Vegas and all of Nevada in Williamsport gave the citizens a sense of pride as it captured the U.S. Championship. The memories are just as vivid now as they were six years ago.

Like most of you, I miss baseball badly. I was thinking a week or so ago how much fun would it be to go to a field, grab my lawn chair, sit down the left-field line and watch a Little League game, maybe one where friends of mine had their kids involved in.

We’d cheer their good plays. We’d be encouraging of them when they came up short. And when it was over, we’d see moms hugging sons, dads hugging daughters, grandparents looking on with pride as everyone headed to grab a postgame snack or drink. It would be normal. It would feel good.

But there is no Little League. Williamsport will remain dark. Uniforms

which would need washing remain clean and on hangers or neatly folded in drawers. Moms are not scrambling to see where their kids left their cleats or gloves and search for them because there’s no game to be late to.

We can’t explain this to the kids. But we really don’t have to. They already know how abnormal their lives are. No school to attend. No going to church or synagogue. No friends to interact with. And no baseball or softball to play.

No chance to be a kid.

Man, the coronavirus is a mean son of a bitch.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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