We are all learning how to deal with the new way of life brought to everyone by the COVID-19 coronavirus. Opinions about the virus are valued as long as the facts are not ignored.

Over the past three weeks I have been contacted by many coaches and former players who all realize the need for working together to beat the virus. They also felt the pain of the athletic teams that have worked so hard as a team to attain success only to have their season cut short.

I can empathize with each athlete and coach as they struggle to give up a season they had waited years for. The winter season teams could not finish out their seasons and it appears spring sports may be lost completely. It is a difficult pill to swallow.

Athletes spend most of their time during the year preparing for a season. They sacrifice time and personal effort to be a part of competitive athletics. The coaches become second parents to them. They work together to form a team with common goals. Their goals are emphasized every practice and before and after every game. The team is so focused on those goals that they become single-minded.

When they are so close to reaching that goal and suddenly have the opportunity snatched away, it is devastating particularly at the high school level. Only 2 percent of high school and college senior athletes will ever get the opportunity to achieve their athletic goals after graduation. It is not a small thing in their minds.

However, these particular athletes and coaches will go on to appreciate how much this experience will help them overcome future life challenges. When the Blue Springs girls basketball team first learned about the state final four being canceled, they cried and hugged each other, which was the proper reaction. But they rallied and made the decision to have one final practice together. That is what athletics is all about.

They did not need to be told or coached that it was important – they already understood that it was about the relationships. No virus or anything else can take that away from them and the things they learned during their athletic journey. They have already won as people and the life lesson will be with them the rest of their lives.

Sports are not about fame, money or championships. Sports are about the journey and the lessons learned along the way. Life is filled with ups and downs.

In 10 years, the players and coaches will not remember the score of every game, but they will never forget the sacrifice and love they had together as players and coaches.

A pandemic is not the way to end an athletic career and it is not fair, but the positive journey as team member is what is truly important. Hopefully they will also become a great teammate in the game of life.

• The quote of the week comes from Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Jack Whitaker: “The sports world is a classic example of the game of life. Much can be accomplished when nobody becomes too concerned with who gets the credit. Great plays are made possible by unselfish and disciplined individuals who are more concerned with end results than with personal ones.”

– Tim Crone, a William Chrisman High School graduate, is a former activities director and coach for Blue Springs High School and is a host of a weekly radio show, “Off the Wall with Tim Crone,” on KCWJ (1030 AM) 6 p.m. every Monday. He writes a weekly column for The Examiner. Reach him at t.crone@comcast.net.