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NOVAK: Do your part and we can all get through this

Today was supposed to be the first day of Michigan high school sports.

But as you all know by now, that has been put on indefinite hold by the COVID-19 outbreak and Monday’s order by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement that we are all under a stay-at-home order until at least April 13.

We are still awaiting word from the Michigan High School Athletic Association on whether or not the winter sports seasons will conclude their state tournaments. The boys and girls basketball tournaments are in limbo, so are those who are in swimming and diving. I understand their desire to make every attempt to complete those seasons, but at what point does it become cruel to keep stringing those athletes along?

Perhaps with the stay-at-home order, the MHSAA will announce shortly that winter sports are finished and keep an eye on the future, hopefully getting at least half a spring sports season in. After all, those who were not competing in a winter sport had already begun practices. I am hearing about teams trying to put together workouts on their own and off of school athletic fields. I would imagine even those will have to stop today due to the governor’s order.

As much as I love sports and have dedicated my life to covering them, I want to plead with young people to stop gathering in large groups. Please get off the beaches of Florida. Stay away from people as directed by the CDC. The more we adhere to their recommendations, the better chance we have of slowing the spread of COVOD-19.

Let me put it another way.

If you stop gathering in large groups, you have the power to help slow down the spread of the virus. You have the power to help healthcare officials get a handle on the situation. By doing so, perhaps there will be a chance to save the spring sports season. Maybe the NBA, NHL and other professional sports can restart their seasons and deliver us some much-needed entertainment, whether it be with fans in the stands or not.

We have all heard the phase, “the children are our future.” That statement is truer now than ever. You literally have the chance to help save our civilization. Do your part. Stay at home. Do not gather in large groups. This is your chance to step up and deliver.

Life without sports has been a challenge for me and others who do not cover national sports teams or even big-time college programs. Finding local content without there being any local events has forced us all to turn up the creative juices.

A couple of things you can look forward to as we all try to get through this is stories on our local athletes who have already signed national letters of intent to play sports at the next level. I would love to hear from all of you who have not yet had your story in the paper.

All you need to do is provide a photo of your signing day, give us your contact information, and I will get with you to so a small story. I will more than likely also ask you how you are dealing with not having any sports to play. Send your submissions to the email address at the end of this column.

Another thing that you will see beginning today is a photo page from the winter sports season. Each sport from each of the schools Leader Publications covers will get their own highlight page. Our talented photographers have taken a lot of photos this past winter, many of which never see the light of day.

Because of that, I wanted to get some of those photographs into our products and onto our website (leaderpub.com) so that you may enjoy them. Hopefully, some of them will stir a fond member from the game that the photograph was taken at, or at least bring you a fond memory of your season.

We will all get through this together. We need to stay strong and do our part. I am hopeful that our healthcare officials can get a handle on the virus sooner rather than later, and that we can all return to our normal lives in the near future.

Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com.

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