Will the school team be good this year, or will the team falter like last year? Will your friends make varsity or will they be playing for JV for one more year? With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, schools from across Massachusetts, including Westford Academy, were unsure if there would be sports this fall. Fortunately, the MIAA recently voted and made it possible for student athletes to have a season this year.
I think having at least some opportunities for students to partake in sports is crucial for not only students’ physical health, but also their mental health. The MIAA thought for months and did not hold this decision lightly and I agree very much with what they decided.
They decided that football, a very close contact sport, and volleyball. a sport taking place indoors, would have their seasons held off until later in the year in hopes that they will still be able to compete. Sports with less contact and that take place outdoors such as cross country, golf, field hockey and soccer are able to compete.
For over seven months, many students lacked the structure of a sports team, physical activity, and also fun. Even though the season looks a little different this year, students are still able to compete and excel at the sports that they love. They are able to improve and also build friendships with their teammates.
At this time, the MIAA has put strict protocols in place such as wearing masks to and from games and only removing them for playing time. They also are allowing players to drive to and from away games to remove unneeded physical contact on the bus. And they developed pods that leagues play in making sure that Westford Academy is only playing one other school per week so if there were to be an outbreak it could be traced much easier. With all these protocols set in place, I think it was a great decision to have a season.
I am a student who has not only been apart of WA’s hybrid learning model but I am also a student athlete who has taken part in sporting events this fall season and from my experience, I feel the most comfortable playing my sport than going to school. All teams are strictly abiding by the procedures set into place and even in sports like soccer or field hockey, where the players are getting within six feet of each other, are not in-contact for a prolonged period of time where it becomes unsafe. There are less people around and everything is outside so the air ventilation is so much better. I think if everyone is following the CDC guidelines for sports and the MIAA guidelines for sports, they should go on.
Another reason I think sports is a crucial thing that should go on is scholarship opportunities. For the kids looking to play in the future, especially sophomores and juniors, they need this season to show recruiters that they are improving and would be an asset to their team. Recruiting is still going to be slower than anticipated even after having a fall season so without a season some student athletes wouldn’t be able to find the great opportunities all their hard work has gotten them and that really would hurt these students in the long run.
Also, with all the stress from the ongoing pandemic as well as restarting schools after seven months off students need a time to relax and do something fun with their friends. Sports are so much more than just a game. It’s a break for that hour or ninety minute practice or game. You forget about all the other things going on in your life and just focus on one thing helping your team win.
Although I understand that partaking in sports may seem like a small thing that kids should just get over and not play to an outsider, that is simply just not the case. Because of this I feel that the fall season needs to go on as planned.