These past few weeks, we have been encouraged to read optimistic writings, communicate with upbeat people, and partake in light-hearted laughter, all with the goal of keeping a positive mindset through these difficult days. As we work to keep our spirits aloft, we do it while thinking about all those around us who are either working in harm’s way, without a job at this time, or may be struggling with illness. We are never far from the plight of our neighbor. We are truly all in this together.
In our current state, it can also be a challenge to write with a tone of levity. There is some inner sense it may not be fitting, perhaps inappropriate or insensitive for the time. But we need it. We need to be able to step away and take in the lighter side, in this case, the less complicated and perhaps nonsensical aspects of sports. It is with this in mind that we present a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing relating to the games we love and miss.
-From this moment forward, it is decreed that every basketball player, whether making or missing their foul shot, shall be considered hand-slapped. Somewhere in a distant gym, on a random winter night, probably by a notable NBA player, the tradition began of slapping the hands of the foul shooter, post shot, whether the attempt is made or missed. It is crazy. May you all consider yourselves pre-slapped, thereby no longer requiring the future act. If Larry Bird didn’t need it, it is not required.
-Let it be affirmed on this day that the previously proposed ocean games be brought to Rhode Island interscholastic sports, to be played in the fall season with the ocean waters still warm. The sports shall include surfing, kayaking, and ocean swimming, and shall be composed of three all-school events to be followed by a state final for the championship. We have the venue. We have the athletes. We will have the interest. Let’s take advantage of an opportunity not availed most regions of our country and add these games to the local sports menu.
-Henceforth, it is mandated that golfers with 20 or higher handicaps, including this writer, shall, when their ball is hit within a three-foot circumference of the hole, consider it a made shot. For those needing to maintain a handicap, three strokes would automatically be added when choosing to play in this format. No more crouching to establish the line. No more walking the perimeter to assess terrain. Just line it up and hit it. I loved the rule change allowing the pin to remain. Bring this one on as well.
-Furthermore, a tradition shall begin whereby our four area high schools - Prout, Narragansett, South Kingstown, and North Kingstown - on a universally agreed-upon date, in every event where all schools are sporting a team, shall split into two units with the highest ranked and lowest ranked competing against second and third for that sport’s annual South County Unity Cup. All proceeds would be distributed equally to the charity of each school’s choice. It would be a fabulous way of building relationships between players, filling the venues with fans, and generating contributions for many a worthy cause. And it would be great fun.
-It is hereby affirmed that our great game of baseball, the sport that has lost so much popularity due to its slow pace and lack of activity, shall enact the following rules. The sphere that is the baseball shall be pitched within twelve seconds at every level of the sport. The strike zone shall be broadened, similar to softball, requiring the batter to swing the bat, with almost no opportunity for drawing walks. With a runner on first, the first baseman may not be within six feet of the bag, a popular rule given our current times, allowing for regular base stealing and action. And, when a team starts an inning down by more than five runs, they would place a runner on second and third base to start the frame to generate instant offense. We dearly need to infuse this sport with changes. Perhaps these would be a start.
-On this day, it is hereby decried that at the end of each high school sports season and for each individual sport, a tradition shall begin whereby a dinner is held to celebrate the parents who have gotten the athletes to the given point while supporting their efforts all along the way. The event would be organized and executed by the athletes, financed by fund raisers, and enjoyed by the moms and dads as a small tribute to all they have put into their child’s sports over the years. Yes, this would be a good one.
Finally, the fallout from the virus has been far reaching, touching so many areas of so many lives. Our heartfelt thoughts go out to everyone who has been negatively impacted at the youth, high school and college level, by the fallout from the virus. Potentially lost sports seasons, particularly for seniors, and the possibility of lost graduations with all the surrounding activities, must be so difficult to absorb and accept. Please know we are thinking about you with deep respect for all the effort you put into getting where you are today. And, we hope that somewhere down the road the lessons learned from this disappointment benefit you in a far larger way.