In keeping with the virtual learning experiences so prevalent these days, let us explore one of the often-asked questions of virtuality. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? It is a philosophical thought experiment that raises question regarding observation and perception.
In 1883, the Chautauquan magazine answered the question with a no. Its explanation was that sound is the sensation excited in the ear when the air or other medium is set in motion.
With this historical reference so noted, let’s ponder a similar question some 137 years later, as it may be asked in 2020. If there are no fans in the stands to read the scoreboard’s final score, did a game really happen? All those of you still debating the chicken or the egg scenario are invited to play along.
The question is posed at this annual time of the year when various media outlets run stories citing sports accomplishments as the team, or the player, or the game of the year. Those nominated for such yearly plaudits are totally subjective as seen by the individual or publication pushing their personal choices. That said, this week’s column is aimed at jumping out ahead of what will be coming in the weeks ahead in looking back to what we have endured in this havoc strewn 2020.
Being totally aware that no one has asked me, nor do I know where I would go to even make my nomination known, it is my conviction that my selection is totally warranted.
So, I hereby nominate Pennsylvania High School District Four as the District of the Year in Pennsylvania. I have stuffed the ballot box with as many votes as I could muster, and no recount will be authorized.
With the exception of high school wrestling achievements, and Southern Columbia football, the majority of Penns Woods athletic districts give little thought to District Four opponents lining up in their way to state championship glory. Before you holler too loudly, I am well aware that some of our local schools and individuals have won state titles, but I cannot recall a season when District Four sports have been so well represented during a fall season — COVD-19 be damned.
Let’s us count the ways; South Williamsport’s Olivia Dorner became the first District Four tennis player to capture a state title when she won the Class AA gold a few weeks ago. Girls’ soccer teams from Southern Columbia and Bloomsburg, and the boys’ team from Lewisburg all were crowned state champions in their respective classifications.
On the gridiron, the steamrolling Southern Columbia Tigers celebrated their 28th District Four crown in the past 30 years by advancing to (and probably winning) another state championship appearance last weekend in Hershey. Closer to home the amazing Jersey Shoe Bulldogs took a #1 Class AAAA ranking into last weekend’s Hershey meeting with powerful defending state champion Thomas Jefferson. And let’s not forget the Muncy Indians’ statewide statement when they gave favored Steelton-Highspire all they could handle in a 50-43 loss in the state playoffs. Muncy’s season play earned them a number 6 ranking among Pennsylvania Class A teams.
Back to the original question, yes, those games did take place; but is certainly a shame that when so many area teams made District Four proud, so few fans were permitted to witness the action.
As this is being written I have no idea of what the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas COVID limitation could become. The hullabaloo raised about the playing, or non-playing, of the fall sports season could be greatly magnified as the winter sports of basketball and wrestling take their acts indoors. The concerns raised about senior athletes missing their football and soccer seasons struck an emotional chord. I am personally happy that those young people had some kind of a season to remember.
The PIAA has given the green light for winter sports teams to begin their pre-season practice schedules, with each individual school district having the final say as to how those practices will be conducted. Basketball players and wrestlers are just as eager to have a season as were those athletes playing fall sports. Here’s hoping that comes to fruition.
If fans are to be permitted to witness the action, there no doubt will be plenty of restrictions placed in their path. Similar to those Mudville fans who were so dismayed when the mighty Casey struck out, it is going to be very difficult to maintain social distancing for a wrestler attempting a take-down or a basketball player blocking a shot.
In a similar vein, as we approach the Christmas shopping season, I have another question for your consideration.
Remember all the local small businesses that you’ve asked for years and years to donate and sponsor your sports teams, clubs, school events and organizations?
Well, they are now calling in a favor — answer the call!