Taking a Toll
Around the United States high school sports have slowly been returning to play. In most cases the majority of all states have returned to sports, however some are still holding out.
California is one of the few states that has not yet allowed the return of high school sports. In California all high school sports have been postponed to a 2021 start. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) made this decision on July 9. This decision is something that has brought many challenges for athletes.
One main obstacle California athletes are facing is not being able to participate in both fall and spring sports, since there are significant overlaps. Most athletes will have to choose one or the other. For example in 2021 the women’s volleyball and lacrosse seasons will be at the same time.
“Starting positions will most likely go to one sport athletes who have the opportunity to be at every practice for their sport. Not being able to start will be weird but I understand. I just can’t choose between volleyball and lacrosse," said San Joaquin Memorial athlete Claire Fitzgerald.
This is the case for many athletes all over California. They simply can not give up playing both sports because they have equal love for both games.
This issue is not only affecting athletes from California, but it is affecting athletes from other states too. According to MaxPreps other states who have moved their sports seasons to 2021 include Washington, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia and North Carolina. Each state's educational board met early in July to decide what best suits the needs of the high school students.
On the other hand, many states are open and resuming play. Texas, a state similar in population size to California, decided to keep all its sports seasons the same. Texas fall sports are thriving right now. Football teams are having great success and from what we can tell, schools are not being forced to shut down and players are not contracting Covid-19.
UT News writer Joshua Childs says that sports bring a sense of community and allow for interaction, important parts of high school sports that were lost during the height of the pandemic.
“High school athletics provide an opportunity for students to engage with their teammates and coaches face to face, even if their school is still offering virtual instruction,” said Childs.
In addition to this, the racial injustice riots have slowed down immensely, leaving many students lost and confused with why our country seems to be falling apart. Child’s addresses this issue and explains it is only another reason to bring high school sports back.
He states, “add on a global pandemic and a national conversation around racial injustices, and students are going to need their community’s support before, during and after competition. This includes resources that give students access to online platforms for learning and recognizing their value to the community every time they step onto the court or field.”
This is so important because high school students should not be expected to play an active role in these world events, but today that seems to be the new normal. Another concern is that some athletes might not be close enough with their parents to discuss this topic, but their high schools coaches, who are well trusted, could be the ones to deliver important messages such as racial equality to them.
All these programs are taking the proper health and safety precautions while still providing the opportunity to play. All states returning to play are making sure everyone wears a mask and washes their hands- a simple task that will allow for a big difference.
One decision a lot of teams are making is to make the season shorter and more local, but still have an opportunity to compete for a championship title within the school's specific region. This means starting games in late October and finishing the season a week or two before Christmas, and limiting the distance a team will travel to play.
So why can other states not follow this same protocol? Texas, a state with a disastrous Covid-19 peak, is able to return to school fully and allow for all fall sports to play. The disparity really is confusing for everyone. There seems to be missing information that the public is not receiving.
Not only are California and other states' decisions putting a toll on high school athletes, but it is making it even harder for athletes who play club and travel sports to find tournaments to attend. Lacrosse, baseball and basketball tournaments are all being moved to outside bordering states. However California sports associations often do not decide to move the tournaments until around three weeks in advance. These last minute changes are major inconveniences to athletes and their families. It is not easy to travel out of state and it definitely is not cheap. Many athletes have actually lost scholarship opportunities because they simply can not afford to travel out of state due to the state's decision to not allow sports to be played.
It all just takes a toll. As time goes on we can only hope there will be a change in the system. However for now athletes in states where high school and club sports are not allowed to be played are stuck sitting on the sidelines and watching other athletes play the game they love.