Winter is coming.
With apologizes to “Game of Thrones” fans, what lies ahead on the sports calendar in Eastern Iowa appears to be a little treacherous at best. And this isn’t a weather report.
Winter sports already have started while fall sports are winding down, always an exciting and hectic time for sports media everywhere. But there already has been a number of delays, postponements and cancellations.
Our 2021 sports world is starting to look a lot like the previous nine months of 2020, thanks to the ongoing uphill battle with the coronavirus.
A lot of area high schools teams are on hiatus as classes have gone online. The three Cedar Rapids public schools, as well as Prairie and Linn-Mar, have shut down activities. Marion and Xavier continue to soldier on — when they can find an opponent.
Iowa City schools, with the exception of Regina, are in the same boat.
Check out the Mississippi Valley Conference website and you’ll see a lot of black lines through events, followed by the words (in red) postponed or canceled. As The Gazette’s K.J. Pilcher reported earlier this week, the inaugural Dan Gable Donnybrook wrestling tournament, scheduled for this weekend at the Xtream Arena in Coralville, is canceled, along with Independence’s annual two-day event. To name a couple.
The college scene isn’t any better.
The Iowa men’s and women’s basketball teams have started their seasons, but the top-ranked wrestling team hasn’t even released a schedule. Ditto Iowa State and Northern Iowa.
Mount Mercy is playing basketball games when it can, with no fans, and Kirkwood has nothing scheduled until January, including a volleyball schedule.
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The American Rivers Conference recently announced its plan to return to competition, also in January. Coe and Luther — along with the other members — are planning a conference-only basketball schedule that will include nine dates, starting Jan. 23. The A-R-C plans a week of makeup games in February, followed by the conference tournament.
The A-R-C wrestling schedule consists of four regular-season dates with triangulars at three different sites, also starting Jan. 23. The regional tournament is set for Feb. 27, the NCAA III Championships March 13.
Volleyball is set to return to the A-R-C in February, soccer and football in March. The football schedule will include four dates between March 27 and April 17.
The Midwest Conference, of which Cornell is a member, announced Thursday it will not sponsor any league competition or championships for fall or winter sports. The Rams will attempt to start practices in January with the hope of some type of nonconference competition starting in February.
Don’t hold your breath.
This isn’t an exercise in scheduling mayhem, but I feel for athletics directors and sports information directors everywhere.
“I’m bracing for a very hectic spring, and wouldn’t mind it a bit,” Cornell sports information director Kerry Kahl wrote in an email Thursday. “It’s stressful in my position, but I can’t imagine what the student-athletes and coaches are going through.”
I’m an optimist by nature and, quite frankly, my livelihood kind of depends on games happening, sports teams and individuals doing the things they do best — competing. I have been impressed by how the Iowa High School Athletic Association and the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union were able to hold summer and fall activities, as well as the low number of positive cases inside the Iowa and Iowa State athletics departments.
But if we’ve learned anything about COVID-19 since our introduction last March, it’s that we know nothing is predictable.
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Winter is not just coming, it’s upon us. That’s why a pause may be in order. Take a break — like many already are doing or will be doing because of the holidays — and let’s take another shot at this in January.
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