I mentioned Thursday that I was getting to announce my 16th state tournament in Green Bay Thursday morning.
And I did. But it was, as CBS-TV’s Jim Nantz intones in Masters golf tournament promotions and as I said in my hastily created open, a state tournament unlike any other.
The girls basketball team was already in Green Bay. The high school fan bus, band coach and radio personnel left Thursday morning. About 20 miles on the way to Green Bay, we got a phone call from our guitar-playing son that the bus was going back to Platteville. Less than 12 hours after the WIAA said state would take place according to plan, the WIAA decided the games would take place but without spectators, except for 88 per school.
Suffice to say the ambiance was not what it usually was. At the beginning of the second game, a player was injured. The Resch Center was so quiet that up at the top, you could hear the TV announcers down on the floor.
All this took place while other breaking news was taking place back in Platteville that the newspaper editor (with the assistance of the passenger) got covered as BREAKING NEWS!
Readers know that one of the biggest events of my young life was playing in the band at the 1982 state tournament. I know how incensed I would have been had we been told that we couldn’t play at state. And that’s exactly what happened to our guitar-playing son, who got a shoutout by a team member at Wednesday’s pep rally at the high school. The WIAA’s decision, justified or not, basically ruined the state experience for everyone who wasn’t a player.
We left officially believing Platteville would be playing in the state Division 3 championship Saturday afternoon. Last night, the boys sectional semifinals were played, with the winners also to play Saturday to go to state.
Or not. Between Wednesday night and late Thursday night, the National Basketball Association and National Hockey League suspended their seasons, the National Collegiate Athletic Association canceled its basketball tournaments, and Major League Baseball suspended spring training and the start of its season.
And the WIAA announced late Thursday night that state and the rest of the boys postseason was canceled.
In a sense it’s the NBA’s fault, because it pulled the plug first, and, as a radio colleague said, “Monkey see, monkey do,” and everyone followed suit, justified or not.
It is strange to me that the NCAA flat out canceled its tournament instead of postponed it. It is similarly strange to me that the WIAA canceled its tournaments instead of postponing them. The players and coaches absolutely would have jumped at the chance to finish the tournaments in April, or May, or this summer.
I feel also for the people for whom my hobby is their line of work. The Facebook sports announcers group was full of people who are paid per game to announce, for instance, high school and college basketball and baseball. No games, no work.
Gary Wipperman had a similar experience Thursday. His conclusion is that life isn’t fair. And it’s not. And the kids who didn’t get to go to state at all, and the kids who didn’t get to finish the state experience they had earned, learned that the hard way.
This was used once. It was supposed to be used Saturday too.