Early start to spring sports causes odd overlap

By LINDA YOUNKIN/lyounkin@state-journal.com Published:


Temperatures in the 50s and 60s? Now this feels like baseball and softball weather.

It has been a topsy-turvy season so far, one where I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up since the first pitches were thrown.

That’s because baseball and softball, along with tennis, were allowed to start their seasons on March 7. 

March 7? That was the first day of the girls state basketball tournament, a week before the boys state basketball tournament started.

In previous years basketball season has ended, there’s usually at least week with no high school sports, and then the spring sports season gets underway.

Now spring sports find themselves going against the state basketball tournaments, the women’s NAIA national tournament, and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

And sometimes the spring sports just can’t compete with those events. You can bet teams were scrambling to rearrange schedules this past weekend with Kentucky and Louisville playing each other in the Final Four.

Why the early start?

I’ve been told it’s to make sure the seasons are finished before the school year ends.

That would make sense if it applied to all spring sports.

But it doesn’t.

It works for tennis, which wraps up with its state tournament on May 19 at the University of Kentucky.

Track is also going for an early finish, with the state meets May 17-19 at the University of Louisville. That’s about a week earlier than last year.

For baseball and softball the length of the season has been extended, and the end still won’t come until most schools are out for the summer.

The state tournaments for both teams will take place the week of June 4 – the baseball tournament at Whitaker Bank Park in Lexington and the softball tournament at Jack Fisher Park in Owensboro.

Several of the local teams didn’t go with the early start date, and who can blame them? 

Spring weather is always tricky, and starting a season just a week past February makes it even more so. How many games could be cancelled because of bad weather?

Of course that hasn’t been a problem this spring. I can’t recall a season before where I covered a game in March wearing jeans and wished I’d been wearing shorts.

-But that’s been the exception so far in my experience.

 I’ve had one coach tell me he’s OK with the earlier start date because he’ll be able to spread out his games a little bit and there’s more time for practice during the season.

I can see those as advantages, but I think the early start hurt baseball and softball.

Have the seasons begin the third or fourth week of March, and all the attention is on the spring sports.

Start on March 7 and hardly anyone is thinking about baseball and softball. They’re all still talking about basketball.

Call me old-fashioned, -but I’d rather the basketballs be put up and the gyms closed before heading outside for spring sports.


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