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Young kids, parents of athletes have had to miss out on so much

Personally, I have not missed pro sports. Having the NCAA Tournament canceled was a huge bummer, because I’m a college hoops junkie.

It’s certainly very sad that so, so many high school athletes had their seasons taken away, especially seniors. I’m proud that the Mirror has found a way to honor so many of those athletes in our area with feature stories over the past few months.

Still, there are two other things which haven’t received a great deal of attention that sadden me about the sports shutdown. One involves young kids, while the other centers around parents of athletes.

As a parent of 7-year-old twins, I can tell you how hard it’s been having the kids stuck inside most days the past three months. Fortunately, we have a great neighborhood and the families have kind of quarantined together, so all the kids have been able to play together while getting through this mess.

While playing with the neighborhood gang is great, many young kids around the country have had their youth sports seasons canceled or pushed back. Kids who get involved in sports at a very young age are vastly more likely to stay involved as they get older, but there are so many youngsters who may have had their favorite — or only — sports outlet taken away for this year by the coronavirus pandemic.

Missing key development time can be crucial for young athletes. That’s true for all sports, but especially baseball. Kids who don’t take part in and learn the game of baseball at a young age will fall drastically behind, simply because of the nature of the very difficult game.

Luckily, the shutdown in our area ended soon enough for the local youth leagues to still be able to hold a season. I cannot imagine what missing an entire season would have done developmentally to my son, Chase, and fortunately, he will still get to play about two-thirds of a season.

That won’t be the case for many kids around the country, in areas that are still locked down and may have to cancel their youth baseball league seasons.

Young kids have soooo many outlets and things they can do nowadays that have nothing to do with sports. And those kids who might not get to play their seasons this year could miss out on what they could become in the sport if they just decide to give it up altogether.

That would be a shame.

The other aspect I want to discuss is parents of athletes. So many parents have devoted thousands of hours over the years to their children’s athletic careers — working together in the yard, taking them to practices or games and being their biggest fans — and they’ve had that valuable bonding time taken away from them by the sports shutdown.

There’s been tons of focus on high school seniors missing out on their final year of sports. But I also feel terrible for the parents of seniors out there who didn’t get that one last year to watch their kids play.

It has to be heartbreaking for those parents.

Cory Giger can be reached at cgiger@altoonamirror.com.

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