Friday marked the start of a new scholastic sports season, and with it being the winter that meant it was the 12th season that I would be heading out on Opening Day to cover a girls basketball game. The lateness of the day getting my story done and online was part of the reason why I didn’t post anything that day.
There’s a reason there is such a thing as Season Affective Disorder, which can sometimes be known as winter blues or winter depression, and I think winter sports and covering them help illustrate it pretty well.
You’ve been outside covering fall sports like football or soccer, with those seasons starting generally in warm weather with shorts and hopefully sunny skies. You’ve watched the games move earlier to accommodate the changing time of sunset, started wearing a coat. You’ve bundled up for the playoffs, watched the skies go gray and then black even earlier and doing your best to brace against the win. You’ve prayed for games to be played in stadia with press boxes.
But now after the briefest of breaks, you’re now beginning a sport where you know you’re going to be trapped in a high school gymnasium for the next three months. There’s good reason for it too, because you pretty much don’t want to be outside anyway. It begins right around the time of the shortest day of the year, and it’s a given you’ll be driving home in the dark (and could be heading to your game in the dark as well since more and more begin at 5:30 or 7 pm).
It’s why I’m so glad that after so many years of covering the sport, that I have so many friends among coaches, reporters, game workers (scorekeepers, clock operators, even officials), fans and players. It makes the season easier to deal with, as does the enjoyment of the sport.
I’m not one who can in August immediately recall any fact from girls basketball or girls soccer season, because they were months before. But once I’m in the gym, writing down the lineups as the players are warming up and I chat with reporters from other outlets, I can quickly feel in my element again.
So while winter is my least favorite season of the year, it isn’t because of the sport I cover and the people involved. They actually make it enjoyable, and when Friday rolled around I was ready to begin again.