Way back when I started in this business, back when I was a just-out-of-college, police-fire-courts reporter attempting to keep my head above water (and mind you, it was a tough gig even before the Internet had tightened the news cycle to its current point), one of my editors asked me to write a feature story on some homeowners who had been inside their houses when a tornado ripped through the north end of Cecil County.
As I was not provided with any contact numbers, I simply took out my Cecil County road map, which was a mass of shredded paper by the time I finished my tenure at that newspaper, drew a line where the tornado had touched down, and drove off on a Thursday afternoon to knock on as many doors as I could. Of the 10 or so people I talked to, three assented to have their quotes appear in my story (quick tip for all you would-be journalists out there: ask the interviewee if they don't mind being quoted before you start asking questions. Many a reporter has wasted precious minutes talking to someone, only to have them end the conversation with, "oh, I don't want to be in the newspaper."). The last person I talked to that day, a man in his 30s who had taken the day off work to make additional repairs to the roof of his house, which had nearly been ripped off, didn't mind being quoted at all. He gave me a blow-by-blow account of his encounter with the tornado, and near the end of the interview he said something that has stuck with me since then. I'll paraphrase him here: "Mother Nature can be downright mean sometimes. She doesn't care what you have going on, whether you just paid off your house. She'll tear it up. When the tornado was shaking my house, I've never felt so small."
Unlike the man I interviewed 12 years ago, I have never had the roof of my house nearly pried off by a tornado, but, and I think the rest of Harford County will back me on this one: lately I've been feeling that Mother Nature just doesn't give a hoot about anyone's plans. As I said a few weeks ago, this sports season has been interrupted more by weather-related school closings than any I can remember since I joined The Aegis, including the 2009-10, "Snowmageddon" year. We get a weekend where the temperature gets above 50 degrees, then bam, there's a snow storm, an ice storm, power outages and all the other attendant problems. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday all go down the tubes as far as sports is concerned, which is really a shame because we're getting down to the best part of the season.
Looking just at the sports I cover, the Harford County Swimming Championship meets were bumped up two days each, and hopefully they'll have been completed by the end of this week, while basketball, already having suffered from a profusion of postponed games, saw its schedule get messier.
Looking at the big picture though, and thinking about the tornado victims I talked to back at the start of my career, that school was canceled and some events were postponed is a small price to have to pay. The basketball games, the swimming and wrestling meets, they will happen at some point, and if some have to be canceled so everyone can go on with their regional and state tournament schedules, then so be it. What's important is that everyone gets their power turned back on and that the roads get cleared so that the rural parts of Harford County don't look like a bobsled run. Athletics are one thing, public safety is another.
Still, I wouldn't want to be an athletic director right now. Good luck rescheduling, everyone.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun