PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – MAY 6
By Leo Haggerty

THE REAL SPORTS LOSERS

First of all, and I will start EVERY article with this paragraph, sports pales in comparison with what is occurring with the Coronavirus. Hopefully, the columns that I, and the rest of our correspondents, provide you is a momentary escape from the trials and tribulations that Americans, and the rest of the world’s population, are experiencing. The COVID-19 is not a video game that you can press reset and get a new life. This is real and dangerous so, above all, be prudent and stay safe.

I’ll admit right now that the word “loser” is a terrible choice of verbiage when describing the seniors, both in high school as well as college across this great country, who lost their last “grab at the brass ring” when the COVID-19 pandemic reared its ugly head.  I wish I had a better term to describe how their eligibility clock struck midnight but, truly, I don’t.

These student-athletes were robbed of their last year of athletic eligibility through no fault of their own.  They didn’t have the opportunity to compete for a championship.  They would never experience the feeling of knowing that they were suiting up for the last time to represent their alma mater.

No March Madness.  No Frozen Four.  No NCAA championship.  No state championship.  No gold medal.  Instead of “One Shining Moment” it was a bunch of shattered dreams and that’s just not right.

For some, this was going to be their “last hurray” before they moved on to the world of work.  This was going to be their last chance to be part of a team before they had to hang up the Chuck’s for the final time.

I can emphasize with all of them.  At least I had the privilege of knowing that my final competitive contest would be in November of 1974.  That allowed me to prepare for what “life after competitive athletics” would entail.

I had the opportunity to plan for the day when my athletic career would come to a close and, I’ll be honest with you, it wasn’t an easy transition.  I can’t fathom how I would have reacted if I was in the same predicament as those student-athletes who had the “rug pulled out” from under them.

The worst thing is that there is no one for them to blame.  Just a deadly virus and, because of that, they were just the victims of circumstances over which they had no control.

To those who this applies, I salute you.  You have my eternal respect and admiration.

Also, by the way, I have found a better word to describe these individuals.  You are winners and definitely not losers.