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Tim Crone: Virus provides tough challenge for all sports

The Examiner
Tim Crone

With all the daily uncertainty with the pandemic, I do not know how coaches can prepare teams for games. All coaches – whether high school, college, or the pros – are challenged more than any time in history.

All the unknowns would necessitate a change in game plan not just from one day to the next, but maybe in hours or minutes.

The sudden decision by the NFL to reschedule the Kansas City Chiefs-New England Patriots game as a result of positive COVID-19 tests on both teams made game preparation nearly impossible. Football is not a game like any other because it takes 11 players working together to understand three different phases of the game.

The loss of Patriots starting quarterback Cam Newton right before boarding a plane to Kansas City made it necessary for both teams to adjust on the run. The game plan worked on over an entire week was thrown out the window at the last minute.

Everyone is playing in the same situation but all bets are off if you lose your starting quarterback the day before the game. This season will clearly show which teams have the best overall depth and which coaching staffs are great versus so-so.

All sports teams are built on creating momentum during the regular season in order to finish strong. The pandemic adds another major hurdle toward that goal.

I am generally slow to criticize coaches as I have been in their shoes. I have heard a lot of negative chatter about the decision by the NBA to play games in the bubble for the last three months and talk that this year’s champion should be placed in a different category than past NBA champions.

I say bull hockey! It has been one of the most difficult seasons in pro basketball history. Some have also questioned the changes implemented by Major League Baseball for the regular season and believe winning this year’s World Series is not a true championship.

I say double bull hockey. It is a stroke of luck and hard work to get the season in. The challenge created by COVID-19 has made play nearly impossible.

I had bet that the high school football teams would end up playing less than five regular season games. I am glad that I was wrong. Those kids have worked hard, many for years, to have a chance to play their sport in their senior year. A lot of time and money have been spent by families in order for these athletes to have an opportunity to reach their goals.

New coaches with struggling teams have been criticized for not getting the job done. I now say triple bull hockey. Programs have had four fewer months to prepare. It takes time and effort to build a championship team or organization.

Perceived notions and opinions need to go to the back burner. Sports fans need to be thankful for the continuance of sports under dire circumstances.  We all need to be grateful that the involved parties are busting their butts to make it all work.

Everyone needs to chill and enjoy the game. Go out and scream in your backyard if you need to, but do not take it out on the folks attempting to make it all happen.

• The quote of the week comes from former Notre Dame football coach Gerry Faust: “I think you put pressure on yourself. There are some outside pressures, but I think the most pressure is put on by yourself.” 

– 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.