A few takes on another busy week


This past week was quite busy in the local sports scene, and as I do every once in awhile, I am going to chat about a few thoughts I developed in that span. It is hard for me not to do a full-blown playoff preview for our high school teams, but I will hold off another week as most sports still have another week or two in the regular season.

That said, here are a few things that are on my mind:

First off, I had the privilege of covering the RIIL Unified Basketball Championships on Saturday at Bishop Hendricken. As always, it was a blast to be a part of.

I have always been an outward supporter of unified sports. They have continued to grow in prominence in the last decade and I have been excited each passing game I have attended. The participation is the best it has ever been, the crowds have grown in size, and the overall execution of championships is top-notch. Saturday’s games had that big-game feel, which these kids deserve.

Unified sports bring out the best in the community and represent what athletics should be about. Team work, commitment to one another, having fun and enjoying the moment. Seeing the athletes and partners team up on the court is incredible to watch and it really shows how important those bonds are. It really is awesome that unified sports are true varsity programs and these kids receive their varsity letters to put on their resumes when looking at colleges.

I can’t stress enough how important these programs are for our high schools and how we need to collectively be on board in supporting the cause. Hopefully they continue to grow. I would love to see even more sports be added to the mix. Congrats to our unified teams on another great season.

Next, was something I came across on Monday afternoon in Cumberland.

I was covering the baseball playoff rematch between the Clippers and Hendricken Hawks, and upon arrival, I noticed a pretty cool camp that the Cumberland student section set up along the right field side of the complex.

The kids brought a grill, threw down some corn hole boards, brought their mitts and had a big cookout while watching one of the biggest games of the season. I thought it was pretty cool to see and it made me regret not doing that when I was in high school.

I remember when I was at that age, I really was only concerned about the sports I was playing. The only time I really went out to watch other teams from my school was during the championships. Seeing how cool of a setup the Cumberland kids had made me kick myself for not making the most of the sports I had available to me as a spectator.

For other local student sections out there, let this open your eyes to how much fun supporting your school can be, especially if you get creative. I was having fun just watching them.

The next topic is also baseball-related and I’ll admit up front … I am going to sound like a grumpy old timer with this take.

Why are we still subjecting fans to dangerous fly balls at games?

Most high school fields have little protection when it comes to fly balls. The backstop behind home plate provides a little protection, but it amazes me that schools have not done more to provide a safe spot for spectators.

It’s baseball, everyone that goes to the game is aware of the risks and understands that you have to be on your toes in case the ball gets smacked into the crowd.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m a toddler parent, but I have grown increasingly anxious at these events when watching youngsters. In Cumberland, there were probably a dozen or so kids running around under the age of 5 and there were a couple of close calls. I cringe thinking about the possible consequences for those little ones.

There’s only so much that can be done, but I feel like schools are too complacent thanks to years of reinforcement. Is it really impossible to add some additional netting along the foul lines? Is it really that difficult to create some sort of shield?

High fly balls are one thing. Those aren’t all that scary. There is usually a few seconds for everyone to brace for the impact, and there is no feasible way to stop a fly ball’s course. However, you still see line drives get crushed into the stands every game. It’s actually shocking to me that more people aren’t injured.

I know, I know, it’s all part of the game. I just can’t accept it, though. I feel like fan safety is being a bit overlooked at local facilities.

Lastly, many local football players made their college commitments early this week, and it was eye opening how many kids from Rhode Island have been recruited.

It feels like Kwity Paye being drafted a few years ago really accelerated the process of getting our players noticed. Sure, guys like Will Blackmon broke through and put Rhode Island on the map, but it seems like the recent success of our players has really caught the attention on the national recruiting front.

One thing is for sure, we are going to be in for one heck of a season next fall. I am already chomping at the bit to get back out there.

pitch, my pitch,


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