Sports year in review: 2020 felt like it came right out of a Twilight Zone script

(Brad Davis/The Register-Herald) Charleston Civic Center worker Austin Holmes cleans up the empty seating areas of the arena following the morning session of the girls basketball state tournament March 12, 2020. This time, the doors wouldn't be reopened for the evening session due to the suspension of the event because of the novel coronavirus.

Among new year’s traditions, right up there with making resolutions, watching the ball drop and taking down the Christmas decorations, is the annual Twilight Zone marathon on SyFy. The eeriness and ironic endings have endured for decades.

It’s certainly not the first time this analogy has been made, but 2020 has resembled one long Twilight Zone episode. People walking around in masks in search of the ever elusive roll of toilet paper — it doesn’t get weirder than that.

The year 2020 will go down as being as evil as Talky Tina, and most people would like to wish it into the cornfield, just like little Anthony Fremont.

The whole world has been impacted by the coronavirus, and sports fans everywhere had their lives changed in ways they never dreamed possible. A world without sports only seemed like a nightmare, until it actually happened in March.

Looking back, some of the Twilight Zone episode titles put us in the mind of some of the things we as sports fans endured in 2020.

“The Silence.” No basketball. No baseball. Nothing. From a national perspective — the NCAA Tournament, Major League Baseball and the like — all the way down to our neck of the woods, the silence truly was deafening.

The girls basketball state tournament and boys Class AA regionals were postponed and ultimately canceled. High school spring sports were axed.

The same fate fell upon WVU Tech. The men’s and women’s basketball teams were called back home from their NAIA national tournaments. Spring sport athletes, who had already started their seasons, were forced off the field.

Noah Adams, the wrestling whiz kid from Independence, went undefeated all the way through the Big 12 Championships as a sophomore at West Virginia. He seemed a sure All-American, maybe even a national champion, but the NCAA Championships were canceled, too.

No Little League or Babe Ruth League baseball. The Scott Brown Memorial Classic, canceled. No West Virginia Miners baseball.

Sports did eventually come back, although with no resemblance to what we are accustomed, neither visually nor in atmosphere, all the while floating in perpetual limbo.

Youth sports returned, but with extreme social distancing measures in place. The West Virginia Golf Association was able to play a complete summer schedule. A high school baseball league was started at Linda K. Epling Stadium. World TeamTennis was the first professional sport to return with fans in attendance, and chose The Greenbrier resort as the place to do it.

Slowly, the silence began to break.

“Where Is Everybody?” The Secondary School Activities Commission announced in August a plan to get fall sports off the ground. Of course, there would be requirements with the goal of stopping the spread of the coronavirus.

Among them: extreme limits on fan attendance. Only family members of the players, coaches, band members and cheerleaders were allowed in, and even that depended on the weekly status of the Covid-19 metrics color map. Friday night football crowds were noticeably smaller.

Collegiately, WVU Tech didn’t allow spectators at all, indeed evoking the feeling, “Where is everybody?”

“The Masks.” Yeah, this is self-explanatory.

“Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?” The premise of this episode is that seven bus passengers and the driver stranded in a diner soon discover one of them is not who he or she seems to be. This leads to a lot of finger pointing, and the truth is revealed only after they get back on the bus, which plunges into an icy river after a bridge collapses.

The finger pointing in West Virginia has not stopped since August. No one trusts the SSAC. No one trusts the DHHR. No one trusts the Department of Education. No one trusts the governor. And all fingers are pointed at all of them.

And, when you think about it, that dastardly map has been a lot like that collapsed bridge. The map has been responsible for games and even practices being lost, even leading to the cancellation of the Super Six football championships.

Through everything 2020 threw at us, it’s important to remember the year was not all bad.

A girls state wrestling tournament was held for the first time. Two local wrestlers, Micah Fisher of Greenbrier East High School and Kenzi Taylor of Independence Middle School, won championships.

The Greenbrier West wrestling team won the Class A state championship for the second straight year and third time overall. Noah Brown won an individual state championship and was named the Class A Most Outstanding Wrestler. Jeremy Tincher was named the Class A Coach of the Year.

The football fields at Woodrow Wilson and Independence were resurfaced with synthetic turf. The fields at Liberty and Shady Spring will get their new turf in time for next season.

It was a successful fall for Shady Spring. The golf team won the Class AA state championship, and Todd Duncan won his second consecutive individual title. A month later, the volleyball team won its first state championship since going back-to-back in 2002 and 2003.

Yes, 2020 brought its share of challenges, and things won’t get better by simply changing our desk calendars. But those positive things can remind us that, yes, “It’s A Good Life.”

Email: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber

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