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We [are] on break

March 27, 2020 - 06:00
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For anyone wondering, yes, the title of this column is indeed a nod to the iconic “Friends” storyline where Ross and Rachel broke up.

I couldn’t think of a better way to characterize what we’re doing here at Lake Oconee News than to call it “a break.” Because I sincerely hope that’s all this is. I reckon I’m like Ross in this case and our sports section is like Rachel.

This week, we are running our final full sports section for a while. We’ve got our fingers crossed that this will only last a few weeks. Worst case, though, it could last months.

I hope and pray it doesn’t come to that.

Don’t worry – we are not entirely dropping sports coverage from our paper. Rather, we don’t anticipate we will have enough content to fill an entire section each week. I think we could do it for a couple of more weeks, but it would mean I’m blowing through every idea I’ve got in mind. I would rather stretch this out and provide at least some consistent sports coverage than write up all the stories I’m thinking of and have nothing to offer each week sports-wise.

What this means for me is that I’m sliding over to news coverage. I’ll be keeping up with hard news in Greene County for the time being.

I’d be lying if I said I’m ecstatic about this temporary (hopefully) change. However, I have seen numerous local sports writers in Georgia lose their jobs over the past week. I’m thankful I have an avenue to keep my job, even if it’s not full-time sports coverage for now.

My heart lies in sports coverage. My heart is with our student-athletes and coaches and their stories and athletic exploits. My heart is out at a sporting venue, not stuck at home.

But my heart’s been broken for two weeks. I won’t re-hash my column from a week ago, but I’m still not “over” the fact that sports are gone for now and may be gone through the end of the school year. I don’t think I will ever get “over” it.

My penchant for listening to sad country songs is doing me no favors right now. As I type these words, I’m listening to Kris Kristofferson’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down.”

There ain’t nothin’ short of dying half as lonesome sound on the sleeping athletic fields…

I intend to write a couple of sports feature stories I’ve been working over in my head for a long time at some point in the coming weeks. Of course, I’ll keep following the athletics-related news of the COVID-19 situation. I’ll write about any other sports topics that come along, too.

Most of my upcoming work, though, will be embedded in the news realm. It’s an interesting venture, and one I’m nervous about, but part of me knows it’s a career opportunity to cover such a sprawling topic as the coronavirus.

I plan to take a break from writing columns during this time. I might crank one out if I’m feeling especially opinionated about something, but unless I’ve got a fresh supply of sports topics to analyze, I don’t want to do this.

Because this will be my last sports column for a while, I want to share a few thoughts.

I am so, so sorry for our student-athletes. They do not deserve having their lives and athletic careers interrupted or possibly ended in this fashion. Everyone deserves an opportunity to play their final game and know that it’s their final game.

I’m sorry for our coaches and athletic directors, whose hard work and preparation are falling by the wayside right now. They dedicate their careers to this thing, and to have it broken up is cruel.

I also want to challenge our athletic directors to do something so that our student-athletes can have a proper conclusion to the season. I don’t care if you call up another school and schedule a home-and-home in the same week and have each game serve as the teams’ senior nights/final games, something is better than nothing. At the very least, get the players and parents together for one last event.

To the Georgia High School Association, you need to pull out all the stops to do something for these coaches and athletes. I understand the overall well-being of the public is of great importance, but, please, have some flexibility here. If you need to push back the sports calendar to finish in June or July, by all means, do it. No ideas should be out of consideration. Make something happen if sports can’t resume in a quick manner.

And to all of you, thanks for following my coverage of Lake Country sports this school year. In case this is our last hurrah of the 2019-20 year, I want you to know how much I appreciate your kind words and warm greetings at our events. I love what I do anyway, but knowing that people appreciate what I do makes this even more rewarding. From the students to the coaches to the parents, I greatly appreciate you and the connections we’ve developed. They can take away future events, but no one can rob us of the great times we had together this school year.

With that, I’m gonna sign off. Moving forward, you can find my byline in the other parts of this paper. I hope you all stay safe during this crisis.

I ask that you continue supporting us. Times are tough, and we need you now more than ever. We are all working hard to bring you everything you need to know about the coronavirus and how it is affecting us in Lake Country.

And I so deeply pray we get to return to normalcy in a quick manner.

I hope this “break” will indeed just be a break. I hope my time spent flirting with news coverage won’t go the way that Ross flirting with the xerox girl did.

Hopefully, I, Ross, will reunite with the sports section, Rachel, very, very soon.