This is snow way to compete/The Red Line
Greetings from the Great Still White North. It snowed again up here last night – looks like it wasn’t quite as bad as anticipated. Maybe only half a foot this time.
The good news is I didn’t have to worry about whether or not today’s scheduled three-team track meet at Houghton was being run. Not only did I have a chance to speak about it with HHS Athletic Director Bruce Horsch, but there’s still a few feet of snow on the track to contend with. Also, school got cancelled, so there’s that.
Yes, I’m told you had a tough winter, too. I’m told Lansing got nearly 70 inches this year, or as we call it in Houghton, December.
(That’s not just a laugh line. We got 74 inches of snow in December.)
Anyhow, I’m not here to talk about the weather. No one up here wants to discuss that, at least not with words I can print.
I have a request for you to consider.
Yesterday, I went over to Finlandia University to meet someone and found, in the Paavo Nurmi Gym, many young men practicing baseball indoors. Earlier, when I was at Houghton, I saw a pole vault and high jump pit set up in the gym.
We know the Copper Country has a history of being a little ‘spring-challenged.’ We like to think the summers make up for it.
But instead of using the summers as a canvas on which to paint a beautiful high school track, golf, baseball and softball season, we find ourselves attempting to Jackson Pollock a month’s worth of games in around prom, graduation, Advanced Placement tests, final exams, etc.
And it’s not right.
U.P. kids shouldn’t have to throw a ball around a gym and call it baseball season or hit seven-irons into a net and call it practice.
All we ask is a couple weeks in the future so that the little brothers and sisters of our spring athletes don’t have to go through this.
You may look at the last two paragraphs and say, well, it’s not our fault they choose to live in the U.P., but here’s the thing.
We start practice and games for fall and winter sports throughout the state at practically the first permissible moment. The first competition day for spring was March 19, or by our metric, about 2 1/2 feet of snow ago.
What kind of conniption fit would be thrown if football or hockey season were a month long? But up here, everyone just kind of shrugs and accepts it. The cancelled three-team track meet mentioned above was the first outdoor athletic event that was even attempted to be scheduled up here.
Postseason play in all of these spring sports will begin a few days after the Memorial Day weekend. If the sun comes out tomorrow and stays there, the U.P. spring sports season will be, what, four weeks?
Moving everything back two or three weeks in the future guarantees everyone in the state will get something resembling a spring sports season even when we get winters like this. It ensures no one has to worry about going to a tournament game or their own graduation party. It means that just because someone is more handy with a shot put than a basketball that their ability to get better and get noticed isn’t buried under the white stuff.
Heck, if you want to be really bold, take a look at Iowa, which is staging its baseball championships on Aug. 2 this year, or Wisconsin which offers two baseball tournaments, one on June 19 and the other on July 25.
We talk about sportsmanship and opportunities for participation. Pole vaulting in a gym isn’t participation, it’s killing time.
And if that fails, can I interest you in sanctioning competitive shoveling?
Brandon Veale can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/redveale.