For one day, at least, high school gymnastics will be the most-anticipated sporting event in the state of Indiana.
America's professional and collegiate leagues have almost entirely shut down in an effort to cut down on the spread of the coronavirus. On Friday, even the Indiana high school boys basketball tournament finally had to be postponed.
But the gymnastics state finals, which will begin at 1 p.m. at Ball State's Worthen Arena on Saturday, are still on, with one catch: Absolutely no spectators are allowed. The event will instead by broadcast on IHSAAtv.org.
"Many parents are watching their daughter compete for the last time on a video feed," Johnny Boatright, father of Bishop Dwenger senior Elise Boatright wrote in an email to the Journal Gazette. "It's heartbreaking, but at the same time its heartwarming. Knowing that IHSAA, and for us, Bishop Dwenger, is doing their best to keep our children safe while allowing them to enjoy a normal athletic experience means a lot."
Anthony Zirille, father of Homestead freshman Gina Zirille, said the parents understand the decision, even if they're disappointed they can't attend.
"The IHSAA needs to consider the safety of the students first, and we completely support that and appreciate it," Zirille said. "As long as it's a safe and clean environment, we're excited they still get a chance to compete."
The parents of the three Fort Wayne teams that qualified for the state meet (Bishop Dwenger, Homestead and Carroll) plan on watching the game at restaurants in town.
"It appears that we're the only sport going on in the country tomorrow, so gymnastics is going to be popular," Zirille said. "The highest-rated sport in Indiana."