Lots to be thankful for in wild year of sports

Jason Brown
The Leavenworth Times
Jason Brown

It’s hard to believe the sports world could ever be affected the way the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken every professional and amateur sports league and organization on earth this year.

One of the best examples was on display a couple of weekends ago as the PGA Tour visited Augusta, Georgia, for the Masters – usually the first scheduled major tournament of the tour season in April.

There is a lot to be thankful for in the world of sports this year after it was turned upside down earlier this year. Back in March, when the PGA postponed the Masters, hope was dwindling in the sports world as event after event was postponed and virtually every organized league ceased play.

It was nearly four months before Major League Baseball players took the field in July, soon to be followed by the National Hockey League and National Basketball Association restarting their paused seasons and playing postseason tournaments in isolated bubbles that were largely successful at keeping COVID-19 out.

The National Football League overcame obstacles in testing and has played its season with hiccups along the way but demonstrated the ability to adapt with testing and contact tracing efforts.

College football has navigated the pandemic differently across the country but has managed to put on its weekly slate of games and is heading toward a normal College Football Playoff after the new year.

At the local level, high school football teams in Leavenworth County played a total of 36 games this fall with just three total games being canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. Lansing volleyball made its fourth straight trip to the 5A final four in October and came away with a runner-up finish.

Multiple runners from Leavenworth, Lansing and Basehor-Linwood earned the opportunity to compete in the state race and were able to do so.

The University of Saint Mary cross country teams continued their dominance in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference at the beginning of November.

Less than four months ago there were doubts that these athletic events could even happen safely and they probably would not have if athletes and coaches did not adapt to new rules and circumstances. The sacrifices that were made to ensure high schools and colleges in Kansas could have a fall athletics season after being forced to cancel its spring season are something we should all be thankful for. The same can be said at the national level where the NFL will play games on Thanksgiving – providing at least a little normalcy on what will be an otherwise abnormal day for most Americans.

So be thankful for the sports we have been able to witness this year and be hopeful for what is to come.

Jason Brown is the sports editor of the Leavenworth Times. Contact him at jbrown@leavenworthtimes.com