KIF kids inspire hope in the midst of pandemic

Swiftly the spring sports season has deteriorated without a game at any level being played.

No cheers and boos from fans.

No dramatic, late-inning heroics from unlikely players coming up big in critical moments.

No sound of the reverberation of the aluminum bat at a high school or college baseball or softball game.

The postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, scheduled to be held in Tokyo, projected to be delayed now into the middle of 2021, is when the magnitude of the economic damage to the sports world at every level sunk in.

The NFL seems to be the only sports entity that has gotten an exemption, as their off season has continued to flow with business as usual, and it appears their scheduled NFL draft in April will remain in this unprecedented crisis the world faces.

The free-agent comings and goings have continued at the rapid-fire pace they’re accustomed to.

The sound of silence has echoed not just in the stadiums, but the economic impact to sports at all levels is an invisible earthquake no seismograph can measure.

The aftershocks from this invisible quake will be even worse. The smoke from this mess hasn’t even begun to clear.

Fortunately, there is hope, and it’s something that no Excel spreadsheet can measure.

Talking to several Kaua‘i Interscholastic Federation athletes about the disappointment triggered surprising responses from these teenagers.

When getting caught up in the emotion and the cut-throat industry of sports, we always tend to forget one fact about the high school competitors everyone cheers on — they are just kids.

The majority of high school kids live in a narcissistic world, both of necessity and by their age.

This is not the case with the recent kids interviewed from all four of our local high schools.

The majority of the KIF kids headed to college have every reason to be selfish. They are going down a path where they are starting their own lives, and they have a lot of reasons to focus on sculpting their futures. In such a case, it’s OK to be selfish when you are a senior in high school.

Yet not a single player interviewed recently displayed any trace of selfishness. It’s as if the virus is an accelerated time machine that not only sped up their senior year but made them wise beyond their years.

Every player interviewed recently expressed disappointment, but that wasn’t their focus.

Their focus was on flattening the pandemic.

Whether it was Kapa‘a baseball player Noa Cardinez, whose baseball future would be slightly altered, or the Kaua‘i High baseball players following the rule of 10 and still practicing together at Keanu Silva’s home gym, or the Waimea High tennis team continuing to work out separately as if the Hawai‘i High School Athletic Association will lift their “indefinite suspension.”

These Kaua‘i kids have all shared one commonality — compassion and care for others.

The focal point for all of these athletes is the safety of others during this difficult time.

The sentiment from every single one of these young men and women was that they are willing to play their role in curving the pandemic. Whether it’s practicing social distancing or limiting the groups, every one of these kids has modified their behavior to a degree, and with the focus on the safety of others and their families.

This is a far cry from how youth are portrayed in the media, as self-centered and self-destructive. Perhaps if there is one positive byproduct of this global pandemic we’ve received, it is perspective.

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Jason Blasco, sports reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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