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I'm down and I'm hurt, but I will do all I can to keep sports alive during this crisis

From the Fringe...


March 17, 2020

Havre Daily News/Colin Thompson

The Bill Vaughey Memorial Tennis Courts lay under a fresh blanket of snow Monday afternoon in Havre. But even had the courts been clear, they would still be empty because spring sports have been suspended until at least April 13.

So, as you can see in the story above, the coronavirus - COVID-19 - has started to wreak havoc with not just the NBA, the NHL, the Masters and March Madness, among so many other things, it's now hitting very close to home.

Obviously, for me, it's like getting hit with a baseball bat from the front and the back. Either way I turn, I can't get away from it.

First of all, sports are my profession. It's my job to write about, cover and report on local sports year-round, and over the years, I think I've been pretty darn good at doing that.

However, I don't live in that same world right now, and not for the foreseeable future. Right now, I, and so many other journalists in my profession, live in a world without sports. Now, I know there is a faction of Americans who think we take sports too seriously. I'm not immune to thinking that myself sometimes. But, when I don't have sports to take seriously anymore, that's a big, big problem.

And so, as things unfolded rapidly around the country last week, then through this past weekend's state basketball tournaments, and now, with the closing of schools and suspension of spring sports, I've had a lot to think about. In fact, like so many Americans, all I've been doing is thinking about it all, and admittedly, worrying about it all.

Still, I'm a journalist first, and a sports journalist second, and in these trying times, I know it is my duty to step up and make sure we forge ahead. We need information right now, and I don't take that responsibility lightly.

And, though games have halted and practices are shuttered, though gyms are locked and parks and fields are empty, that doesn't mean sports have just gone away. No, they are very much a fabric of our lives, and even in these strange times, they will continue to be, and that includes right here at home.

Thus, our sports section here at the Havre Daily News will carry on. It won't be what we're used to. Right now, we should be talking about track and field, tennis, softball, golf courses opening and baseball games, but that isn't reality. What is reality though is, through this crisis, through these tough times, there are still stories to be told, and we are going to tell them.

In the coming days and weeks, we're going to be doing a lot of stories on what effects this crisis is having on our local sports landscape. We're going to be talking a lot about the coronavirus because, right now, that is the story. But, we'll be doing much more than that.

We have an entire postseason basketball awards cycle to get through, and as always we will be naming our All Hi-Line Boys and Girls Basketball Teams very soon, as well as all of the postseason accolades that will be handed out soon.

Beyond that, and the coronavirus coverage, we will also take this time to do a bunch of new feature stories, and focus on things in the local sports landscape that we don't normally get to focus on. We are a small staff at the Havre Daily News, and with how big the sports landscape is around here all year, we can't always get to some of the stories I've always wanted to do. But, we will be able to now, so we will be creative going forward, while also keeping you completely informed on what is unfolding with this crisis, seemingly minute-by-minute.

In other words, my mission for almost 18 years at the HDN has been to bring you the best local sports coverage I can, and while that mission got a little more difficult recently, that's exactly what myself and my staff intend to do.

Of course, there's another side to what's going on in my world right now and that's, for now, the loss of the spring sports season. You all know I'm the tennis coach at Havre High and have been for a long time. So, the closing of schools and the announcement of spring sports being suspended until mid-April was a true gut-punch. And you'll be hearing much more about how myself and all our spring sports coaches and kids are feeling about all this in the coming days and weeks.

But, for right now, I think I speak for all our coaches when I say, we're crushed; we're devastated. We were just getting started. We were just learning and seeing what a great season this was going to be for spring sports. We were just getting to know our new kids, while getting more and more excited about the coming two months. So, it isn't over reactive when I say, we're all devastated. Everybody got their turn this season, and now we might not. That hurts to even contemplate it.

Having said that, more than anything right now, I want us all to be OK. I want us all to stay safe and healthy, so when the time comes, we can start playing tennis again, so we can start playing softball and running track again. Our kids deserve that, they deserve to have their season, just like everybody else had theirs. In order for that to happen, though, we have to be safe and healthy, so I'll leave you with this: Take care of each other right now, and if we do that, we can all come back and coach and play the sports we love to do.


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