From the sidelines
By Marty Gordon
At the end of the year, sports editors try to look back at what were the memorable sports stories. This year is no different or is it?
Sports will never be the same after COVID-19 has taken its toll on the world as we know it.
Almost 280 days have passed since we last saw high school competition in any sport. I feel sorry for the student-athletes who have sat at home and wondered what could have been. Also, kids under the age of 11 have been in limbo. There has been no T-ball, flag football or basketball.
Most of our recreation centers have all been closed during this pandemic.
COVID has forced organizers to scratch their heads over new sanitizing protocols and do things they would have never thought about.
I hurt because of the lack of sports.
College football games have become scrimmages with no fans, and journalists have had to learn how to cover schools without even being in the same location. I have seen television commentators call games from secondary locations while learning to cover the competition via Zoom.
Zoom has also become the new way to conduct interviews.
I never even knew what Zoom was until this year. Emailing questions to coaches has also become the new norm. I don’t know if we will ever go back to in-person, face-to-face press conferences.
Positive COVID cases have taken down sporting events despite the fact we were able to see college and professional football. College basketball has also been drastically affected by the virus. But we were able to see some games and provide some positive vibes in this chaos.
Typically, I usually take this time of the year to present the “Marty Awards” to those in the sports world. Again, COVID-19 has made this difficult. The “Martys” are given to sports figures and programs for making a difference in the past year.
Let me first say, I was one of the many individuals who had COVID-19. I was blessed that it was not the worst like many people in our community. For the months afterward, I continued to lose my sense of taste and smell. In the past two weeks, those have gotten back to normal.
But the year has taken its toll on everyone including myself. My hope is that the New Year will be better and that we will see sports competition. In so many ways, we need a distraction.
So, here are the “Martys” for 2020:
The Rusty Wallace Racing Experience has saved Motor Mile Speedway and Dragway. The Radford facility had been scheduled to be closed this coming year, but thanks to a management agreement, we will have local racing this spring and summer.
Matt Hagan deserves a Marty award for picking up another NHRA Funny Car World Championship.
Virginia Tech football player Khalil Herbert is another Marty award winner after putting together a great season on the heels of transferring from the University of Kansas.
Virginia Tech Athletic Director Whit Babcock receives a Marty for cutting corners and maybe making the biggest decision in keeping football coach Justin Fuente.
A Marty goes to Shane Beamer for being hired as the head coach at the University of South
Carolina. Make us proud, Shane.
A Marty goes to Radford High School’s Connor Lytton who signed a letter of intent to play college football at Boston College. Make us proud, Connor.
A Marty goes to Nick Yopp and the Christiansburg Recreation Department, who managed to pull off a “Trout Rodeo” this past summer honoring the late Tony Huddleston.
A Marty is given to Auburn High School’s boys’ basketball team for being named co-state champions for a shortened season.
A Marty goes to the Radford High School boys’ basketball team for another state title run.
A special Marty award goes to all the athletic trainers, doctors and medical personnel who have been working overtime to put student-athletes back on the court, field and/or the mat. Thank you.
Let’s just hope we will see sports in some form or fashion in the next few weeks.