Peterson: Coffee break business closes

I believe it was late Marquette University basketball coach Al McGuire who once observed that “sports is the coffee break of life.”

And just like that, the coffee break was suspended last week.

With the spread of Coronavirus, just about every major sport in this country has postponed business.

The cancellation of the NCAA basketball tournament was the — first and most stunning — of the cancellations.

There are literally millions of dollars involved in the Final Four. And that’s not even counting the office pools that spring up at this time every year.

When the corporations close down one of the most lucrative money-makers in this country, you know there’s something BIG going on.

I could care less about the big professional sports (NBA, NHL, MLB, etc.) shutting down. Those sports are centered strictly around the almighty dollar.

And the self-centered athletes in those sports almost certainly have the money socked away to stand the loss of a few months of pay. Or they should have.

I feel more for the little guys involved. The ticket-takers, concession workers, ushers and others who rely on the games to make a living.

But I feel especially sorry for the college and high school athletes all around the country who saw their sports careers abruptly end.

Locally, the Michigan Tech hockey and men’s basketball were preparing for tournament play.

The MTU hockey team was just getting ready for the WCHA playoffs and appeared to be picking up momentum for a run.

The same was true for the Huskies’ men’s hoops team in the NCAA regionals. Behind standout Kyle Monroe, coach Kevin Luke’s squad had a decent shot at advancing.

The local prep scene affected five high schools, Calumet hockey, Dollar Bay-Tamarack City and Chassell boys squads, and the L’Anse-Baraga girls in finals.

The Copper Kings’ hockey team was already downstate for the state when it learned about the news. With a seasoned team, led by Scott Loukus, CHS seemed primed for a shot at a state title.

The Bolts and Panthers victor would have advanced to regional play, while Hornets-Vikings winner, which promised to be a classic, would have been a regional champ.

In the latter case, a Baraga-L’Anse regional matchup hadn’t been seen since the 1940’s when both were in Class C.

And how about the Iron Mountain boys team, which was cheated out of a state title a year ago by one of the worst reffing calls anyone has ever seen? There will now be no retribution for the Mountaineers in 2020.

I’m well aware that health issues must take first precedent in any situation. I’ve seen pictures from the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak (my aunt was a nurse at Walter Reed Memorial in Washington D.C) and never forgot it. An estimated 19 million world-wide died from that pandemic.

But try explaining that to a 17-year old who has just seen their high school sports career end in a puff of smoke.


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