Start the spring prep sports season later? I don’t think so

Every spring I hear the same cry from freezing prep sports fans.

It’s time to move the season later in the year.

Temperatures, they say, are too cold in March and April. By the time the snow melts, the rain arrives and half the season is gone without much to show for it.

Starting a month later, they believe, would alleviate the impact of freezing weather and allow athletes a larger window of competition similar to what they experience early in the fall season.

Sounds good, but there’s one problem. It won’t work.

I’ve worn shorts to games in March and winter coats in June. It’s life in the Midwest, unfortunately, and specifically anywhere close to Chicago.

Moving the season won’t change the magical fact that we go to sleep with temps in the 30s, and wake up with temps in the 80s. There are no weather guarantees around here, certainly not in the spring.

There’s no avoiding the climate turmoil. If you started the spring season a month later this year, you’d still have an abundance of chilly rainouts.

The biggest shame of the poor weather every spring lies with baseball and softball, where playing in the Midwest can stymie development. There’s a reason why SEC, Big 12 and Pac-12 schools thrive in those sports while Big Ten baseball and softball teams often struggle.

The top players simply don’t want to deal with the iffy spring weather in this area. It’s why many high school baseball and softball teams in northern Illinois take spring break trips to warmer climates, and why they take weekend trips to southern Illinois.

You do what you can to get your games in when the weather becomes such a huge factor. Navigating a spring season of 30-plus games is like sprinting through a minefield.

But it’s a tap dance that must be done as long as baseball and softball remain spring sports.

Another argument against moving the spring season later in the year is dealing with the senior athletes. How much can you expect from students who already graduated?

It’s odd enough in the spring when you have athletes across various sports competing in the morning and graduating that afternoon. Is it fair to expect them to remain committed to a high school team several weeks after they graduated?

I’m sure some grads would be fine with a later season, but others are moving on and getting ready for college. It’s just one of the logistical issues facing schools if the spring season is shifted deeper into June.

Many of the younger athletes — whether they’re in soccer, volleyball, track and field or tennis — have commitments to summer camps or travel teams. Asking them to participate in a later spring season could be awkward as well.

Look, I get it. March and April are often horrible, sometimes unbearable, for playing outdoor sports. And May, I’m sure, will feature much more palatable weather.

But shifting the season later isn’t the answer.

We’ve been around long enough to know the weather around here is too nutty to depend on anything.

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