Is there a chance?
Near the end of the movie, “Dumb and Dumber,” Lloyd Christmas asks the beautiful Mary Swanson if there’s a chance the two of them could end up together.
Mary eventually tells him the chances are akin to one in a million.
Christmas, portrayed by Jim Carrey, gets a strange look on his face and then exudes, “So, you’re telling me there’s a chance. Yeah!”
This week, you get the feeling that the state’s high school athletes are getting the same kind of news.
After Governor Ralph Northam closed schools for the remainder of the academic year on Monday as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the Virginia High School League appropriately deemed there would no more athletics for that same time period. For most of the area schools (4 of 5) that meant through June 5.
A day later, the VHSL’s Crisis Committee left an open door that some sports could be played after the school year is complete, possibly some time in July. The committee will meet again in May to make a decision.
And even though Tuesday’s report was chocked with numerous hurdles to overcome (physicals, insurance, no specifics on how any of this would be scheduled), the VHSL said the possibility does exist for competition.
“So you’re telling me there’s a chance. Yeah!”
That’s certainly how some spring athletes feel about an opportunity of playing again.
For many senior soccer, baseball, softball, tennis and track & field athletes, it would be one more shot at putting on the uniform and competing with their teammates. It would be a way to beat a virus that had cheated them out of their proms, graduation ceremonies and parties and the good times with their best friends.
You can understand why they might be excited by a second chance. They’ve put in a lot of sweat during offseason workouts and practices and had it go for naught.
This was the spring many of them, especially those seniors, were building toward. This was the time to compete in a sport that college, jobs and life will prevent them from playing again.
But after the craziness of this spring, you don’t want them to be let down again. And that’s a distinct possibility.
We have no indication when COVID-19 will run its course. Certainly it appears Northam is being particularly careful with not only schools but places of business. And in betting parlance, the school districts are always going to take the “over” as opposed to the “under” when it comes to protecting students.
“A lot of things are going to have to change before any of this other stuff even matters,” VHSL executive director Billy Haun told The Star on Wednesday in regards to the safety element.
The same could be said about the logistics of athletics if the virus abates. Athletic directors are going to be challenged to put together schedules, coaches, officials and transportation during a traditionally down period for all of those things. Athletes will need new physicals and insurance to compete.
If the VHSL pulls the trigger in May, that would allow some time to address those major challenges.
But maybe an even bigger challenge is keeping the teams together. Many spring athletes play on travel teams over the summer. Those don’t come cheap and the word “travel” means that often those squads are out of town.
And by the time July rolls around, many students are already working, trying to make a few bucks to put some gas in the tank. Those jobs can present conflicts with practice and games.
Certainly, there’s going to be some seniors already focusing on college or future employment. Many of the elite senior athletes already will be enrolled in summer classes at their future schools.
And in the end, none of it will lead to a state championship. The VHSL has made that clear from the start.
With practices for the fall sports scheduled to start by Aug. 3 (July 30 for football), the window of opportunity is pretty small.
No one can argue that it wouldn’t be a wonderful thing for these students to get a chance to compete, again. They deserve it.
But an awful lot of moving parts have to go right to make it happen and prevent more disappointment.
Hopefully the odds aren’t one in a million.