Miles Vance: Reacting to the cancelation of state hoop
I'm angry that the Lake Oswego and West Linn boys basketball teams didn't get to play in the 2020 Class 6A state tournament.
But let me be clear — I'm not angry at the Oregon School Activities Association or Oregon Gov. Kate Brown for their roles in the cancelation of the tournament (also canceled were the Class 6A girls, Class 5A boys and girls, and Class 4A boys and girls tournaments) due to precautions against the spread of COVID-19.
I'm angry that the Lakers and Lions — along with the rest of the Class 6A field — missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I'm angry that teams such as West Linn and Lake Oswego will never know if they were the best this year. I'm angry they never got the chance to test themselves against the state's best teams on the state's biggest stage with the state's biggest prize on the line.
I'm angry that there will be no Class 6A state champion crowned this year — a first in Oregon boys basketball since the state held its inaugural championship in 1919, a span of 101 years now interrupted by the new coronavirus and Oregon's response to it.
During that 101 years, Oregon managed to hold basketball championships despite many threats to national safety and public health. There was the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic which ended in November and killed 500,000 Americans — but they played a state basketball championship just three months later.
There was a state basketball tournament following the onset of World War II, which included rare instances of bombing on the West Coast (including Oregon) during 1942.
There were polio outbreaks in 1949 and 1952 that killed more than 6,000 Americans, but there was still basketball. In 1957, the Asian Flu outbreak killed 70,000 Americans — but Oregon still played state basketball tournaments.
More recently, the 2009 Swine Flu (also known as H1N1) outbreak killed almost 4,000 Americans — but we still played state basketball.
Further, those championships all continued despite the annual ravages of influenza, with U.S. deaths over the last 10 years hitting a low of 12,000 in 2011-12 and a high of 80,000 in 2017-18.
With all that as pretext, it's a fair question to ask — why not be angry at the OSAA, Brown and everyone else associated with the cancelation?
Here's why — because they just don't know what's going to happen.
They don't know, I don't know and neither do you.
They don't know if this particular viral outbreak will turn deadly like it has in Italy, or if it will be contained and begin to subside as it has in South Korea.
They don't know if this virus will eventually kill hundreds or thousands in America — as some of those earlier outbreaks did — or if the number of its victims will remain low as it is now.
They don't know if young people will continue to remain relatively unaffected by the virus, or if things might turn a corner where the young are more affected, in ratios closer to the way the elderly are impacted.
That uncertainty — coupled with legitimate fears, the impact of the 24-hour news cycle and the litigious nature of our society — probably played the biggest role in the cancelation of the state basketball tournaments.
With all those things that our government leaders, medical experts, politicians and media pundits don't know, here's a few more.
We'll never know which team was the best this year. We'll never know if top-ranked Jesuit could defend the title it won a year earlier. We'll never know if No. 2 South Salem might have stepped up for its first title since 2004. We'll never know if third-ranked Jefferson — the 2017 state champ and runner-up in 2018-19 — could break through to win again.
We'll never know if the Lions or Lakers might have stepped up to surprise the world and win a 6A title.
But we do know this — Lake Oswego, West Linn and all those other teams never got the chance to find out.
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