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Whether you’re a student or a grown adult this pandemic has forced you to be flexible. 

Kids have gone from learning face-to-face inside a classroom to learning face-to-face through apps on computers and tablets. Working adults have had at least some aspect of their jobs changed. Everyone has been touched by this global crisis, and everything is as far from business as usual as I hope to experience in my lifetime. 

Sports may be pretty low on the totem pole for most in terms of importance of things affected by the pandemic, but that’s not true for everyone. I’ve seen mothers post about missing their son’s senior season of high school baseball and athletes tagging their coaches in at-home workout videos. I’ve seen playing careers cut short for those not continuing on in college and undefeated seasons forced into a much-too-early end. 

For those of us who grew up playing them, sports mean a lot. That’s why a documentary about the greatest to ever play the game of basketball can break ratings records or a replay of a World Series played 25 years ago can still have fans sitting at the edge of their seats. These things matter. 

A lot of attention since the start of this pandemic, including here on this sports page, has been given to the shortened spring sports seasons (and there’s more to come later). Kids were playing games one day and sent home the next, never to return to the practice or competition fields. But a lot of people, including myself, forgot about winter sports. It was brought to my attention a couple weeks ago by Baldwin High School Athletic Director Dexter Ricks that BHS never got to hold its winter sports banquets to honor basketball players and cheerleaders as well as wrestlers. After asking around, I learned that no local school got their winter banquets in before the pandemic hit, which is understandable because everyone was not long removed from their winter sports seasons when everything began.

And so a plan was devised that will be set in motion with this weekend’s edition of The Union-Recorder. These student-athletes will be highlighted for their hard work and commitment to their programs. What we will do here on the sports page is cover these banquets as if they happened without there actually being a large gathering. There will be comments looking back on the season, and coaches have also agreed to announce their team awards here in the newspaper and on our website.

Is it a perfect solution? Of course not. Under current circumstances though, coaches are stuck waiting out the pandemic in hopes they can get their postseason banquets in over the summer before the start of next school year. Publishing banquet results provides a new best-case scenario for these players and coaches. Hopefully they can be highlighted in the paper AND get to attend the actual event sometime in the near future, not be forced to wait and see.

I’m grateful to work in a community with coaches and athletic directors willing to work with their local newspaper in this way. Maybe print isn’t as dead as everyone says it is? 

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