Bryce Warrecker likened it to a breakup — a it’s not you, it’s me situation.
The Santa Barbara High senior was just hours removed from being told that his final baseball season with the Dons is likely over.
The powers that be have determined that while schools in Santa Barbara Unified School District will stay open in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, but athletics were deemed “non-essential” or “unnecessary,” depending on who you ask.
Much like the tone-deaf nature of how the Peabody Stadium Project has been handled, the officials involved in this decision have yet again thumbed their nose at thousands of local athletes in the name of not thinking things through.
On Thursday night, Dr. Henning Ansorg, the Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer, said that the reason why nearly 10 different spring sports could not go on was due to fans.
“With the sporting events, it’s not so much the teams, but more the spectators. NBA has cancelled all their games. All big sporting events and small sporting events are… people are very close to each other, and just getting to the game and standing in line and it’s a big crowd,” Dr. Ansorg said.
Moments later, he said that classrooms were safe, where class sizes can balloon to 30-plus students, all lined up only inches away from each other.
Dr. Ansorg says that they have worked with the schools and are hoping that students will get “creative” in helping honor the county’s mandate of “social distancing.”
So, tight quarters with children that have never faced a pandemic in their lives is safer than an open field with athletes that are in top physical condition?
Something doesn’t add up here.
If schools were being shut down — like Ventura County did on Thursday night — then no one would question why athletics had to be “postponed.”
But Dr. Ansorg went on to say that anything that has to do with the academic curriculum was approved to move forward.
Every high school athlete in SBUSD takes their sixth period — which occurs every day but Wednesday — as their particular sport.
On Thursdays, these teams meet starting at 1:28 p.m. — 92 minutes prior to the final school bell of the day — with lunch preceding the period starting at 12:46 p.m.
So, Dr. Ansorg, could these players technically play a game during this time, since it is during their assigned class?
“That would be allowed, just they couldn’t have spectators.”
So, according to our county health official, the players, nor coaches, are in imminent danger with this plan.
So why not enact it?
This is when the adults in the room need to stop taking the easy road, instead asking how they can honor the hundreds upon hundreds of hours that these student-athletes put into getting ready for a season. This is not to mention the countless hours that coaches spend carting kids around all over town, picking up trash in dugouts or arranging tutoring for a student needing a bit more help.
Yes, this would take some rescheduling. Yes, there would only be one swimming or track meet; one baseball or softball game; and one volleyball or lacrosse match per week.
That’s better than nothing.
This opens the door for senior athletes that are looking to earn a scholarship another road into their dream institution.
Athletics are not necessarily about winning or losing, they are about opportunity and learning to work as a team — a critical skill in today’s workforce.
Yet, on Thursday, it wasn’t even Dons coach Steve Schuck that was able to break the news to his own team — a trainer made his way down to Eddie Mathews Field to let the group know, according to Warrecker.
That showcases a lack of empathy, it is not a message that should come via an email, that’s the type of thing that needs to be delivered by the coaches that take these kids in as family.
“We love each other so much,” Warrecker said. “It’s a piece of us that is getting taken away at the moment.”
But if the district is going to insist on keeping the doors open at school, then there needs to be a different solution than just turning their backs.
Schuck was admittedly shook up by the day that was, but refused to give up hope.
“I can tell you, my first baseman and second baseman will have more than six feet between them.”
Let’s just hope that the powers that be aren’t emotionally distant.