Cue up Kool & The Gang, let celebrations start again

The PGA Tour became the latest sports league to resume activities this weekend, but plenty of us are still feeling a big void in our lives.

Sports aren’t essential to living as we have all learned the past few months, but they do bring a lot of meaning and happiness to a lot of people’s lives.

I write this as not only a sports writer who depends on events taking place to make a living, but as a fan of watching sports my entire life.

Regardless of where you stand on the safety aspects of everything, the coronavirus pandemic has not only killed thousands, it has disrupted the lives of everyone on the entire planet.

Smiles have been hard to come by for awhile now, but I must admit to having one when I covered my first baseball game of the season June 1 when the Altoona Area Teener Baseball League started its schedule.

I won’t get into whether it was right or wrong of the league to begin while Blair County was still in the yellow phase of reopening. I want to write about the faces I saw when Furrer Beverage finished off its extra-inning victory over Professionals Auto Body.

Kids were jumping up and down and celebrating an accomplishment they achieved together.

That’s what I have missed the most in the world of sports since this pandemic started.

It happens at every level, and we all take it for granted because we thought we could see it somewhere every night.

Whether it’s professional sports with Kawhi Leonard draining a shot that bounces seemingly 100 times on the rim before going in to lift Toronto over Philadelphia in the NBA playoffs, a walk-off single in an afternoon regular season Pirates game or an overtime goal to put the Penguins in the next round of the NHL playoffs, seeing that excitement is why a lot of us watch sports.

As the Mirror’s high school sports beat writer, to me nothing is more enjoyable at work to watch than a group of local athletes make school history and achieve something that will never be forgotten.

That has been the hardest part dealing with writing about each new event being canceled.

Alli Campbell and her Bellwood-Antis basketball teammates never got the chance to three-peat, and the Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic boys didn’t get the chance to win the state title that eluded the Marauders last season. Speaking of that, the young Lady Marauders never got the chance to make their own statement by perhaps stopping Bellwood short of history and starting a new dynasty of their own.

There were no long runs by local spring sports teams. All we got were a couple boys tennis matches played before everything was put to a halt. No trips to Shippensburg in pursuit of track and field gold from stars like Chestnut Ridge’s Duane Knisely or Penn Cambria’s Lyric Janosik.

My job is just to document the history and write about the accomplishments of these athletes, but it still hurts me, even as a relative outsider to what’s going on in their pursuit of their dreams, to see them have no chance to reach them.

Just imagine how it must feel for the athletes, their families and coaches.

Hopefully this week’s approval by the PIAA to allow offseason workouts signals that fall sports athletes won’t suffer the same fate, and we can all meet in Hershey sometime soon to watch some trophies being hoisted in the air.

Michael Boytim can be reached at mboytim@altoonamiror.com. Follow him on Twitter @BoytimMichael


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