Brunswick’s Isaac Burtis (21) searches for the puck in front of Mt. Ararat/Lisbon/Morse goaltender Cade Charron (29) in a “Battle of the Bridge” boys hockey last season. Bob Conn / The Times Record

One of my Christmas wishes has already come true: The full return of professional sports. I guess you could say that wish came true this summer, but with the National Football League in full swing, the National Basketball Association tipping off and the National Hockey League on the horizon, it seems as though professional sports are truly back.

My other wish is still pending: The return of winter high school sports.

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It’s been a tough year for us diehard sports fans, especially for those like me who enjoy watching young athletes battle it out on the playing surface to prove themselves and their schools’ dominance.

Fans got a different experience this year, as did the likes of professional athletes in every sport across the world and the student-athletes at Midcoast high schools.

The pro sports industry made monumental adjustments, like setting up the Disney World Bubble in July for the NBA, but eventually we saw some normalcy in the sports world.

Not that the results have been normal. The New England Patriots are 6-8 and missed out on the postseason for the first time since 2008. The Los Angeles Dodgers finally won their first World Series title since 1988, which was 10 years before I was born.

We saw the Stanley Cup and Larry O’Brien trophies awarded to the winning teams in their “bubbles,” one in Orlando and the other in Edmonton.

We witnessed the NFL hold their draft, not at Radio City Music Hall like it was for years, but from the basement of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s home outside of New York City. The NBA held theirs at the ESPN studio in Bristol, Connecticut.

Locally, high school sports resumed in September, but far differently than what we watched pre-pandemic. Volleyball games couldn’t be played inside; there was no tackling in football. Soccer and field hockey games went on pretty much as usual, but those postseasons were canceled. Cross country had their meets with some altered rules, but the state meet was canceled when the number of positive COVID-19 cases started to drastically rise in Maine.

In fact, the only sport where a champion was crowned this fall was golf, which is a sport that is socially distant from others in itself.

What’s so great about high school sports is that the kids still gave their all to their sports in spite of the challenges.

The effort was not lacking despite the fact there was no postseason and no standings. Teams competed against different schools that they may not normally see, like Freeport and Brunswick battling on the gridiron for the first time ever.

While a winter high school season may come with no spectators and masked athletes, it would still give the student-athletes the same thrill when they line up for competition. Their fans will still be cheering them on.

We adjusted in the fall, so we can adjust this winter.

I’ll be watching the Minnesota Vikings and the New Orleans Saints battle it out on the gridiron on Christmas afternoon, followed by watching LeBron and the Los Angeles Lakers play on Christmas night, and all the while hoping my other Christmas wish comes true, too.

Merry Christmas.

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