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Steve Marcus

Centennial Bulldogs girls basketball players celebrate after defeating Bishop Gorman High School for their fifth consecutive title during the Class 4A high school basketball championship at the Orleans Arena Friday, March 1, 2019.

Many of us who played high school sports have experienced that Al Bundy moment of greatness that we’ve carried into adulthood.

We proudly bring up that one big game or play when talking to friends at the bar or taking our children to their first pee-wee practice. I’m guilty of the “Here’s how daddy and his friends used to do it” talk.

Whether it was four touchdowns in a single game like TV’s Bundy scored for Polk High or a small role in a meaningful win, prep sports always provides great ammunition for storytelling.

But as we get older, it’s not even the wins at the center of the story. It’s participating — the bus rides, friendships and competition.

High school sports provide a fleeting experience, and once you’re done, you’re done.

An overwhelming majority of high school athletes don’t play a second of organized sports past that last minute of their prep run — and, no, beer-league softball doesn’t count.

There’s no way to sugarcoat it: The Clark County School District’s announcement this week that winter sports — basketball, bowling, flag football and wrestling — are being canceled because of the pandemic is a painful blow.

Many athletes are going to miss out on those moments synonymous with the journey.

They’ll be no rose for mom on Senior Night, no playoff run, no storming the court to celebrate an upset win and no chance to compete one last time against a rival.

The initial plan was for a condensed, six-week season starting Jan. 2. But with statewide stay-at-home orders closing schools through the end of the year, it’s simply not possible.

Additionally, students must physically attend school for a season to start, and the Clark County School Board won’t entertain a return plan until COVID-19 cases start to decrease.

There won’t be any movement during this second surge of cases, which last week alone saw 10% of the state’s more than 142,000 total cases recorded.

Six-week seasons for fall and spring sports are still on the books for 2021, but they are also in jeopardy.

We all want the kids to compete and understand the importance of high school sports in their physical and social development.

But by simply looking at the number of coronavirus cases, it’s obvious the timing just isn’t right.

It’s heartbreaking to say this, but there’s no viable way to conduct practice and games in the upcoming weeks without putting people at risk. Life and death will always take precedent over wins and losses.

Yes, high school sports are being played in about 38 other states. And many have gone off without a hitch by following safety protocols and meticulous planning.

But it’s still playing with fire.

Look what happened with Saguaro football in Arizona, which had to forfeit a playoff game to end the season because of positive tests. (But, Brewer, at least they got to play!).

The fact of the matter is that all of us have had our lives upended the last nine months.

First we missed out on Easter celebrations, then Mother’s Day and summer vacation. And just last week, Thanksgiving dinner was void of our loved ones.

The fact of the matter, unfortunately, is the fall and spring seasons could be in danger to prevent putting people in harm’s way, and not just the players. It’s also the officials, ticket takers, coaches, cheerleaders and fans.

And it’s not even just sports. It’s school bands, theater programs and clubs.

Fortunately, this eventually will end, and games will be played once again.

The focus for now needs to be on figuring out how to give all sports, regardless of the season, some closure.

It’s going to take some creativity, which will be a challenge in scheming against the unpredictable pandemic.

Instead of canceling the winter season, delay it until the spring — even if it bumps up against another season. Let athletes play multiple sports simultaneously, which is not now allowed but something worth considering to salvage games.

Also, consider hosting games in June, even if it’s after graduation.

If the virus continues to spike or the impending vaccine doesn’t bring down the cases, then make a decision later to shed a season. But pulling the plug now simply takes away hope from teenagers who are waiting for a chance to compete — some for the last time.

They have been patient with the finish line being moved back on the start of the season. Officials coordinating the seasons should use the same patience in their approach. No solution is perfect for all athletes or teams. But simply canceling sports with five months to go in the school year seems like striking out on three pitches without lifting the bat from your shoulder.

Remember, it’s all about the kids. First, and most important, let’s keep them safe from COVID-19. Next, let’s give them a chance for that Al Bundy moment.

Article written by #LasVegasSun