For Jack Kramer of ScoresBroadcast.com, it was an easy call to not make the call, this fall.
SCORES, the Shelby County Online Radio Entertainment System, is foregoing the play-by-play call of high school football’s shortened regular season, which may finally get the official “go-ahead” today.
Having had a brush with the coronavirus and breathlessness last March and wanting to remain healthy while spending time with his daughter, a high school French teacher, who is expecting a child, Kramer plans to remain on the sidelines for the next several weeks. SCORES could return for post-season playoff coverage.
“I have turned the pandemic into a paintdemic,” Kramer laughed. “Both Lowe’s and Home Depot know me well.”
He added with a big smile, “If I could wear my mask while announcing Anna, Fort Loramie, Lehman Catholic, Minster, and Sidney football games, I’d do it. But I guess a big opening in the middle of a special mask to bark out, ‘It’s a touchdown,’ kind of defeats the purpose.”
The website for the free online service states: Due to the health crisis and the uncertainty of high school football, we will not cover the regular season. We hope you respect our decision.
During the 2019-20 school sports year, which was halted on the second Thursday of March because of the pandemic, SCORES webcasted more games than it had in one eight-month stretch since 2013. Then, the Anna and Fort Loramie girls basketball teams earned state championships winning back-to-back title games on the same day.
Earlier this year, Anna, Fort Loramie, and Minster girls hoops teams advanced to Columbus in March. The Jackson Center boys won their regional semifinal and were a win away from Columbus. The Anna and Fort Loramie boys lost close contests in regional semis.
In November 2019, New Bremen edged Fort Loramie for the Division IV volleyball state championship. A month later, Anna cruised to a Division VI state football title. Marion Local did the same in Division VII after pulling out an overtime thriller versus Fort Loramie in the regional. The Botkins boys soccer squad gained a berth in the Division III state semifinal.
“A fantastic year for upper Miami Valley small school sports teams,” Kramer stated. “And SCORES was very lucky to be a part of it.”
Chuck McBee, Kramer’s regular on-air partner since 2010, is returning to 100% health at this time. He, Jack, and Mike Wick of Sidney — who with Jeff Bray and Mark Jordan helped originate SCORES in 2007 — briefly considered being in the pressbox for this fall’s August 28th season opener.
But the trio decided to hold out and track the progress of the first six weeks of football. Meanwhile, Kramer will progress with his “honey-do” list.
“Last spring and all summer long while freshening up the house, I have continued to remember the late Matt Zircher,” said Kramer, who was joined by Matt for more than 40 webcasts the last two years.
“We had a great time together covering the Division IV baseball state tourney in Akron in 2019,” recalled Kramer, who said Matt pulled a “fast one” on him when he beat Jack to their assigned media booth.
“Jack, you won’t believe what we have to work with,” said Matt, who, Kramer recalled, “fooled him” with a convincing downtrodden look.
Matt then opened the door and “surprised me with a couch, refrigerator, microwave, and spacious broadcast counter and view high above first base,” Kramer said. “Needless to say, we had some memorable laughs during the drive all the way home that evening.”
Kramer noted that Matt played a big role on SCORES covering basketball tournament games last February and March. “In spirit, he and I will do it again this winter.”
In December, numerous state high school athletic associations conclude their late-start fall sports seasons. Then, before Christmas or in January, they begin their winter seasons including boys and girls basketball. A dozen states booted football to spring. Michigan and Illinois just made the switch. Pennsylvania is considering it.
“I was hopeful Ohio would move 2020 football to 2021,” Kramer said, “and transition from summer baseball to a school baseball season back on August 1.”
Iowa just finished its “2021” baseball and softball seasons. Numerous states will extend their high school sports years into next June and July to accommodate contingency plans. Only several launch football this month.
According to Columbus media, the current 13-week program for Ohio high school football was ironed out in mid-July when the Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) learned the governor’s office would very likely leave to each individual school district the option to play football. Since then, Kramer said, the governor’s office has “played politics” by delaying the inevitable “play ball!”
Last week’s late pushes from legislators and large county health commissions urged for a pause in the Ohio football kick-off to a few weeks after delayed school openings.
“It’s fortunate the schools may make their own choices to compete on the gridiron,” Kramer pointed out. “However, it’s unfortunate they had no say in the 13-week, state-wide proposal that limits to three the number of home games.”
Kramer’s 52-year announcing career of 3200 play-by-play stints includes telecasts of 132 straight Ohio State football games from 1980 to 1991. Two years ago, he missed coverage of a high school football playoff tilt when his mother-in-law was ill. In September 2007, he missed webcasting the Lehman Catholic-Dayton Jefferson contest which was canceled.
The Kramer-McBee SCORES announce team has streamed almost 1,000 total games and matches in several sports. The next football contest the duo covers together is their 125th since the two were united on SCORES ten years ago.
However, that webcast won’t happen this month or next. Instead, Kramer will likely be clutching a paint brush on Friday nights, and not the SCORES microphone.