SPORTS

Patience key this winter season

By ALEX SPONSELLER
Posted 1/27/21

This past weekend marked the official start to the winter sports season, ending the hiatus that began shortly before the holidays in November. It was great to be back out there and to reconnect with some coaches and players. It was different, as it will

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SPORTS

Patience key this winter season

Posted

This past weekend marked the official start to the winter sports season, ending the hiatus that began shortly before the holidays in November.

It was great to be back out there and to reconnect with some coaches and players. It was different, as it will be for the foreseeable future, but something is better than nothing.

The kids seemed to be happy and having fun which is the most important part. At the high school level, that is what it is all about. It is great to see kids getting to see their friends, play their sports and feel some sense of normalcy. Especially for the seniors, I am happy that they are going to get to have a final season of play.

Having said that though, there was a sobering reality this weekend.

Many, actually, most events were rescheduled or postponed to later dates. At least in the Beacon Communications coverage area. Some of the issues regarded scheduling conflicts with officials, others involved schools not being quite ready to host games, some involved the opposing schools and their own problems.

I was actually looking forward to catching some indoor track and field action on Saturday morning, but the Providence Career and Technical Institute along with the coaches association decided to not allow media for the opening events.

As happy and excited as I am to be back and to see the student-athletes have something to enjoy, it is clear how much different and tough this winter season will be to pull off.

Do I expect to make it through and see everything work out? Yes, the season is only going to be a month long, it would be pretty hard to cancel it at this point.

And yes, let me be fair, this was the first weekend and schools didn’t even know if they would be cleared to host events until the middle of last week. There were going to obviously be some bumps along the way in the early going. I understand that.

But overall, I think the way this first weekend went is a sign of things to come. Nothing unexpected or drastic, but I think that it is a reminder that we need to all be patient and continue to work together to get back to normal. We have made some progress, but have a ways to go.

I’m starting with me on this. I have to be more patient. Of course, I am absolutely not complaining about the scheduling difficulties over the past week. It’s frustrating, but I am well aware of the necessity of implementing the appropriate safety precautions and making sure they are executed at each step. The risk is simply not one worth taking, so I am totally understanding of why things are choppy.

But in general, these types of issues will likely continue to come up in the next month, there is still plenty of work to be done, so let’s remember to appreciate what we have and to do our best to make the most of this uncertain season. In my opinion, with the results of this past weekend’s NFC Championship game, New England finally received the answer of the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick debate. Brady was more valuable to the Patriots run of success than Belichick was.

And I do not say that lightly, I have been a Belichick sympathizer up until now.

We all know the truth, though. Neither of these guys would have been as successful without the other. Would Brady be a hall of fame player had he been drafted elsewhere? Yes. Would Belichick have been a hall of fame coach had he never crossed paths with Brady? Yes.

However, would each of these guys have reached the heights that they did, being considered arguably the best to ever do it at their respective positions? That is a much closer call.

But back to the question at hand.

The reason I always sided with Bill was because he was the brains of the organization. Owner Rober Kraft put the pieces in place, but Bill was the one who really got everything organized to set sail.

Belichick has installed a stable, consistent program for the past 20 years. Prior to this past season, he found success even without Brady.

Brady fit into Bill’s system perfectly as well - a hardworking, structured quarterback with an eye for detail and was willing to put the team first.

Those are the reasons I always leaned Bill. It was his system, his program, his culture. Brady was drafted in the sixth round for a reason as well, he was not ready to hit the ground running right out of college and as we all know, this team was defense-first in the first three championship runs. The next three were Brady’s years.

Now, as the Patriots are getting ready to draft the highest they have in awhile and are licking their wounds after a disappointing 7-9 season, Brady and the Bucs are getting ready to take on the defending champion Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Crazy.

It was not always pretty for Tampa Bay this year. There were some clear growing pains in the first half of the season between Brady fitting into their scheme and incorporating his own ideas, as well as just the building of familiarity with one another.

But down the stretch, this team started clicking and Brady has been playing Brady-like football. Sure, those three interceptions were not anything to boast about this past weekend, but he and the offense made enough plays to scoot past Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers and got the job done.

Now, to be fair, Brady had no excuse not to play well this year. The Tampa roster is loaded unlike any roster I have seen. Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Cameron Brate, a pair of young rising wideouts. Brady had everything he needed.

But make no mistake about it. Brady proved this year that the quarterback position is more important than the head coach. They work hand in hand and things are at their best when each is performing well, but the point has been made. Brady wins.

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