There’s something in the air.
And it ain’t spring.
After witnessing Tipton challenge East Buchanan at the Missouri state girls basketball tournament, one of the last organized contests hosted in the state — if not the nation — since concerns over the spread COVID-19 grew to prominence, a truth I had been living hit me as I cruised up the interstate from Springfield.
The less money you make, the harder it is to get a day off.
This concept was faithfully represented by the sequence and methods of precaution deployed by popular athletic organizations, and might help explain why MSHSAA has yet to axe its upcoming spring sports season.
The NBA, a league with an average salary of $7 million and debates whether its stars rest too often, postponed the rest of the season March 11 upon a positive test for the Utah Jazz’s Rudy Gobert.
In the following days, top earners in tennis and golf forced the hand of the ATP and PGA, respectively, by pulling out of events in progress.
The NCAA waited until every conference had shuttered its basketball tournaments March 12 before canceling March Madness and spring season athletics.
The MLB, which would have celebrated Opening Day on Thursday, announced March 12 it would postpone the start of its season at least two weeks. And while the average MLB salary is around $4 million, this decision especially highlighted the amateur ramifications of each league.
Already earning less than minimum wage over a full year, minor league baseball players wait for decisions from the MLB — including major amendments to the amateur draft — to trickle down the pipeline.
In Sedalia, State Fair Community College baseball and softball had its seasons canceled after a March 14 announcement from the NJCAA.
Without a spring collegiate season, the Sedalia Bombers stand to benefit from a wealth of talented players who need reps — but that season is in a similar, optimistic limbo to MSHSAA’s spring sports campaigns.
As Tipton and participants at the Class 1-3 Show-Me Showdown played out their seasons in front of limited attendance, Gov. Mike Parson deferred to local agencies to make decisions about school and public closures.
Two days later, MSHSAA crowned four champions each upon scrapping the Class 4-5 Show-Me Showdown. This week, Parson asked President Trump to approve a major disaster declaration in Missouri.
As the last league standing, at least for this newspaper, MSHSAA seems hopeful that another entity might cancel the season for them.
Through press releases it has referenced health officials, the CDC, individual schools, counties and even time itself (schools require 14 days of practice, and you’re running out of weeks!) as sources influencing a decision to cancel that, however unpopular, feels inevitable.
Given that unpaid college and high school athletes were the last ones playing, “the less money you make, the harder it is to get a day off,” appears to ring true. How come?
I’m not sure.
But I do know that this method of trickle-down leadership smells like inaction.
Alex Agueros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @abagueros2.