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No Tourney Week is a Low Blow

For local sports fans, COVID 19 just landed the biggest sucker punch to the gut yet.

This is the week that the annual Maine High School Basketball Tournament should be held.

But for the first time in decades, it’s not meant to be.

The virus has dealt all of us sports fans a barrage of jabs not seen since Muhammed Ali unloading on Sonny Liston.

But this is the knock out blow.

Tourney week is a rite of winter passage. Its a sign we’ll survive mother nature’s icy wrath. For generations folks from all corners of our snow covered state have counted on this one magical week in mid February to preserve our sanity.

Athletes. Students. Parents. Senior citizens. All being robbed of a Maine tradition by an opponent who has delivered blows below the belt for almost a year now.

According to the intrepid Ernie “Ernesto” Clark of the Bangor Daily News, a state tournament has been held for boys basketball every year since 1944. (Read full story here) This ironically includes 2020, the year from hell. Last year we just snuck the event in before the virus bell sounded.

Pre COVID around 100,000 people attended a high school playoff game in this state.

Bu this year there will be no whistles, cheers or tears, chills or thrills.

Next to Waterfront Concerts, nothing gives a quick cash injection to local businesses in the Bangor area like tourney week. According to Ernie’s story, the venues in Bangor, Augusta and Portland could lose up to $400,000.

Restaurants, hotels, retail locations, car dealers and more all are about to absorb a wicked financial blow in an economy with a glass jaw.

But you can’t put a price tag on the emotional losses to the players, coaches and fans. The MPA has done what it can to at least to get the kids on the courts this winter. It's an admirable effort.

But the loss of tourney time is a rope a dope for which there is no escape.

If I could allow Mike Tyson to bite off part of my ear so we could have tourney week, I’d seriously consider the sacrifice.

We all just need to hang in there and go the distance in the COVID 19 fight, so next year at this time tourney week will be back.


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