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There are times when “it’s just a game” falls short of capturing the importance.

On Tuesday afternoon the Ellensburg High School girls soccer team took the field for its first match of the season against Prosser.

Typically, this would be cause of interest and excitement, given that each home match is something to celebrate, plus the EHS girls soccer team is pretty darn good.

But there was nothing typical about Tuesday’s match. First of all, the match took place on Feb. 16 — girls soccer is a fall sport.

Secondly, the day before the match there was about a foot of snow on the field — volunteers cleared that problem.

And, oh yeah, we’re still in the midst of a worldwide pandemic. And up until Sunday, when the state corrected an error, a soccer match could not even be played under the COVID restrictions.

Welcome to high school sports in 2021 — don’t try to adjust the seasonal dial, just go with it.

If it had’t been for this past weekend’s snow storm, Ellensburg High cross country would’ve been the first to see action on Saturday. As it was, soccer took to the field at 3 p.m. Tuesday and volleyball played later that evening in Prosser.

A game is just a game — a chance for young people to compete, enjoy themselves, enjoy playing with their friends. In this case, though, a game was also a piece of what we lost — a piece of the structure of high school and young peoples’ lives.

It was lost for a valid reason — to protect health and safety — but we need to acknowledge the loss.

There is a structure to high school which includes classes, but also practicing for the fall play or winter musical, staying after school to practice music or take part on an athletic team or get together to quiz with fellow Knowledge Bowl team members.

The list can go on but it just adds up to creating a structure of a day, full of opportunities that educate, inform, challenge and, yes, entertain. The way it usually works, is tighter structure is needed early on and then as students age they see less of a need. It gets to the point where whether the student is heading off to college or the work world, they have a sense for how to structure their own day.

So, a soccer game is just a soccer game, but it is also a step toward recapturing some of what was lost. It’s remains disconcerting because we don’t know what the next steps will be or if we will just have to stand in place again for a while.

Perhaps it is not a fair critique given that the last worldwide pandemic was in 1918, but it is hard to handle being in Phase 2 and not knowing what Phase 3 would bring. It is understandable to say, “there are just too many variable to predict when Phase 3 would begin,” but that does not mean you can’t explain what Phase 3 would look like.

The state is leaving counties hanging, telling them to keep the faith and maintain safe COVID practices, but not giving them or residents any sense of what a better day tomorrow would entail.

Not knowing, or communicating, where you are going does not give people faith in leadership.

All this just makes celebrating something as simple as two teams playing a game on a soccer all the more special, even if it is under 34 degrees at game time.

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