Tim Crone: Sacrifice has helped keep high school sports going

The Examiner
Tim Crone

I thank God for the daily blessing of life. It has been almost exactly one full year since I sat in Cable Dahmer Arena covering the high school sectional boys and girls basketball playoffs.

I suddenly noticed the crowd was looking at their cell phones and walking around. I was wearing a double headset so could not tell what was going on.

At halftime I went up into the stands to ask the fans. They gave me the news that the NCAA, NBA and all sports were shutting down games due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I was in total shock just like everyone else.

I had just returned from watching the Chiefs win the Super Bowl in Miami. I was going to the Big 12 basketball tournament the following day with my golfing buddy who had suite seats.

The next 12 months was like nothing we have seen.

The following Saturday the high school quarterfinal games were played at Blue Springs South with a completely different look. The Missouri State High School Activities Association only allowed coaches, officials and two parents per player to attend the game.

We were allowed in to cover the game on the radio and that was the last time I have been in a gym for one full year.

We all have our own stories about how this past year has changed our lives. I visited with Kerwin Urhahn, the Missouri State High School Activities Association executive director, by phone about this year’s Super Bowl. We reflected about just how difficult the sporting world has been. He mentioned that many people were upset with the restrictions during the regular season and how much revision was necessary to pull off the state championship tournaments.

The winter seasons could not be completed and the spring sports had no season at all. Fall teams were allowed to play with no crowds, and many exceptionally good football teams had to cancel their seasons right before district play. Several of those teams could have been state champions if they had had an opportunity to finish the season.

We all know how tough things have been and now that things are turning the corner, I think we need to be incredibly grateful to all the teachers, administers, coaches, officials and players who sacrificed so much.

Some high school athletes have worked all their lives to have an opportunity to play in a high school state tournament competition. The parents and students spent countless hours to prepare for a high school career. Most have participated in little league and competitive sports teams with the dream of playing on a state championship high school team. The time and money alone are unbelievable.

Although the desire was to see it run with pre-pandemic conditions, it was just an impossibility. However, the administrations and coaches have done a remarkable job.

In an interview with a TV station at that quarterfinal basketball game last year, I was asked as a former coach and athletic director how I would handle the situation. I am rarely at a loss for words but had to admit that I had no clue.

We have all now learned that complaints do not change a thing. It is exceedingly difficult to balance safety and a state championship game. We need to be appreciative of all those who gave the athletes an opportunity to play the sports they love.

As a grandparent I miss seeing my grandchildren participate in their activities, but I understand it is all about them reaching their own goals.

I do know that when this is finally behind us, I will do everything in my power to attend every single event and will be much more appreciative of the folks who work so hard to make it happen for the sake of the kids. For goodness sakes, hopefully we have all learned to be flexible and grateful for all the blessings we have.

• The quote of the week comes from Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States: “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal, nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.”

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.