Right now, the plan is to go forward, even if spring sports do not
Good afternoon all, hope things are going well in whatever bunker you are riding out this crisis in!
I've been following the developments surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus closely for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the cancellation of spring sports in Kansas, which of course impacts me because of my chosen career, but more importantly has broken the hearts of thousands of high school athletes and their coaches. Further, my parents and my in-laws are all in the categories where serious illness, or even death, is a higher risk for those contracting the coronavirus and developing the COVID-19 disease. Of far less importance, but still a concern, are the almost certain cancellation of upcoming travel plans and the frightening financial instability of the economy both nationally and locally.
Considering the daunting challenges which lie ahead, I'd like to outline our revised plans for our spring publication and talk a little bit about our coverage going forward, but first I'd like to throw out a few basics regarding the current pandemic that I think we should all be aware of:
1. According to the Associated Press Stylebook, an English grammar style and usage guide referred to by thousands of journalists worldwide, coronaviruses are a family of viruses, some of which cause disease in people and animals, named for crownlike spikes on their surfaces. The current coronavirus spreading across the globe is called a “novel” virus because it has never been detected before this outbreak.
2. Coronaviruses can cause the common cold or more severe diseases such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and COVID-19, the latter of which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.
3. COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, is caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2.
4. Symptoms of COVID-19 can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
5. As of this writing (and it changes hourly) there have been more than 7,500 confirmed cases reported in the United States with 85 deaths directly attributed to COVID-19, this according to NPR. According to the John Hopkins University & Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center over 200,000 cases have been reported worldwide with 8,700 deaths and more than 83,000 recovered.
So, given the impact to our school and sports year, what does this spring look like for Kansas Pregame?
Certainly panicking or living in fear are not good options, especially for those modeling good behavior for young people. But, for me, I've had to get serious about making some short-term decisions related to my business.
Here are a few considerations I'm looking at as I work on the Spring Edition while also looking ahead to future coverage:
1. How does a cancellation of the spring sports season impact production of our Spring Edition?
We launched a Spring Sports Preview last year to preview the baseball, softball and track & field seasons in Kansas. This year we plan postseason coverage of cross country and volleyball, two sports we don't currently preview in our other publications. And now, with the early cancellation of the state basketball tournament, we'd like to include a look back at those state tournaments in our spring publication, while also taking a look at what might have been in the spring sports season.
Even though those spring athletes at Kansas high schools won't get to complete a spring sports season, we want to provide a memory of their athletic careers, especially for those seniors.
2. What does this mean for our hard copy distribution plan?
Currently we distribute the hard copies of our magazines free through dozens of advertisers across the state. The primary reason is to drive foot traffic for those businesses who make our publications possible, while also keeping the publication free to the players, parents, coaches and fans.
Many of those advertisers are currently restricting access to their locations, and rightfully so. I firmly believe, now more than ever, in creating high quality glossy full color keepsake publications, but right now, I'm not 100% certain how I'll get them to the public while still providing the most positive impact for our advertisers.
Further, it is possible that commercial printers may have to temporarily cease operations if shelter in place mandates are issued, BUT, we will publish a digital edition - hopefully by the end of April, but we'll update everyone on our timeline - and, if we have to print the hard copy at a later date we will and we'll work with advertisers to get it in people's hands.
3. Can advertisers afford to participate in these uncertain financial times?
I've already collected payments from many of our spring advertisers, some as part of larger packages that were purchased last fall, while some others will receive invoices in the near future. I know that some advertisers could have challenges in paying those bills if this economic downturn persists, so I hope to have an open dialogue with those customers and offer deferments on those bills if necessary.
Advertisers, if you have concerns, please let me know. Feel free to email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or text/call (785-524-6019).
It's okay to admit this is scary!
This is scary, and there's nothing wrong with admitting that. It's a historic health care crisis that will challenge each of us, not just with the loss of a spring sports season or high school graduation, but also with the possible loss of a loved one or a massive disruption to our jobs and financial futures.
I think it's tremendously important that we do the following in the current situation:
1. Follow the CDC guidelines for social distancing, hand washing and other important lifestyle behaviors.
2. Don't panic! It's scary, but we need to talk about our concerns and ask for help if needed. In my lifetime I have witnessed numerous examples of people coming together in times of crisis to help people in their time of need. I'm confident that will happen in this situation, though physically coming together may have to wait until a later date.
3. Don't utilize health care providers for non-essential services. While the coronavirus has not exploded in Kansas the way it has in other states, experts agree it will, and our health care providers need to have the resources to deal with a rapid increase in cases when it occurs.
I'm very sorry to the class of 2020 who will miss out on so much this spring, and to their coaches and teachers who thrive on those daily interactions.
I'd like to thank all the health care professionals, first responders, members of the military, law enforcement officers and so many other essential emergency service providers who will no doubt be tested in the weeks and months to come. THANK YOU for putting yourself in harm's way for our safety!
If there is anything I can do to use the Kansas Pregame platform to provide more information, please let me know.
Publisher, Kansas Pregame