The Impact of COVID-19 on High School Sports.

Andrew Elysee

An image of the start line of a Cross Country Race in 2020.

Today, due to COVID-19, sports seasons have been thrown into complete disarray. As of now, only Boy’s and Girl’s Golf, Girl’s Tennis, Boy’s and Girl’s Cross Country, and Girls Swimming & Diving are running their seasons this year. Several sports seasons including Football, Boy’s Soccer, and Girl’s Volleyball have moved to the spring of 2021. Even the sports that don’t compete in the fall were affected despite there being no urgent need to modify them.

COVID-19’s most immediate impact was originally on the spring and summer sports of this year. Many of the spring and summer sports were abruptly canceled and the season’s promises for athletes were broken. The IHSA has determined that they do not want to terminate other sports seasons but rather hold them in modified forms. On their COVID-19 information page, one will find that the fall seasons of all team dependent sports were moved to the spring, with the hope that by then, the pandemic will be contained. Other sports that rely less on the team aspect like Cross Country, Tennis, Golf, and Swimming & Diving are all occurring, though, in modified forms this fall. This has some teams concerned about the safety of their practices and competitions. A sophomore on our Boys Cross Country team, Joseph Winn, ’23, commented, “I definitely question the decision. Especially at a high school level, sports shouldn’t be a huge priority at a time like this.” On the other hand, the sports teams that had their seasons moved to later in the year are concerned if their seasons will actually run and how normal they will be. A senior from the Boys Soccer team, Benjamin Stoddart, ’21, said “I feel like it’s not going to be as serious and it’s going to be all messed up. I mean I hope it doesn’t get messed up but it’s like impossible to know how things are going to work in the spring.” The threat of the spring sports seasons getting canceled is increased by the ability for flu-like diseases to strive in the Winter causing the spring to also be affected. Finally, the sports seasons that normally run in the spring and summer were also modified raising concerns amongst the teams. Some of these concerns are related to the significantly shorter seasons that they would be experiencing. For example, the Boy’s Track season, which is normally split up into two 2-3 month seasons, was consolidated into a single month and a half season. A junior on the Boys Track team, Jack Fleck, ’22, commented, “I’m a little frustrated how our season is normally from February to late May,  and now it’s from mid-May to mid-June. But I understand why. I can still compete with a club team, but there won’t be easy access to equipment our school has, like the weight room.” It is clear from looking at sports alone how long COVID-19 will be relevant in our lives.