PRO/CON: Future of high school sports

 Students can still safely play sports during the pandemic

PRO

Over the past few months there has been a debate about whether high school sports should be played during a global pandemic.  

Many people believe that it is not safe and the consequences outweigh the benefits. But as long as the proper safety precautions are taken, then high school sports can and should be played.

I know that sports can be played in a safe way from my own experience. I play hockey, which is a close contact sport played indoors. 

The club I play for, called the Tri Valley Blue Devils, came up with ways to keep us safe and they have been effective so far with no positive cases. We are required to play with masks on, locker rooms are closed, and if players leave the state, they have to quarantine or get tested.

All of these restrictions can be annoying but they keep us safe and allow us to play the sport we love. As long as specific guidelines are created for high school sports, including wearing masks, then there is no reason not to allow athletes to return to competition.

There are many benefits, both physically and mentally,  that come with sports being played. With gyms closed, manys students have not had the ability to stay in shape over the past few months. In fact, the rate of obesity has increased due to the coronavirus. according to worldobesity.org.

Sports are a good way to let students be active and stay healthy. Before I returned to hockey, I was not doing any kind of physical activity. When I started playing again, I wasn’t in very good shape. Going to hockey improved my conditioning over the months.

High school sports are also very beneficial for mental health. Priya Chidambaram from Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy foundation, reported that 52 percent of adults have had negative impacts on their mental health since July. With school being all online and students having to stay home and away from their friends, they can feel isolated, which isn’t good for a person’s mental health.

Returning to sports is a good way to have students socialize with other people again in a safe way. As long as everyone wears masks, it is much safer to be together and socialize. Going back to play hockey allowed me to hang out with friends who I had not seen in months.  

With all of this being said, we can only return to sports if the proper guidelines are put in place and followed. To make sure the virus has a small chance of spreading, masks have to be worn by all athletes because they reduce the risk of a person contracting COVID-19 by 65 percent, according to Rick Kushman, senior writer in the Office of Public Affairs at the University of California, Davis.

This virus is very dangerous and can’t be taken lightly, but if we force everyone to isolate then that is dangerous as well. We all have to work together with this issue and make sure we follow the proper safety protocols so we can go play sports again.

CON

As we speak, the world is still in a national crisis as the coronavirus pandemic is still circulating the world. So why must high school sports teams continue to practice when student athletes can stay at home, practice alone and be safe?

As the number of COVID-19 cases rose the past few months, high school athletes continued to practice in smaller groups to prepare for their upcoming season, creating a higher risk for students and coaches to catch the deadly virus.

Some people might say these small group practices help the team bond. But according to the rules issued by the district, each team must limit groups to 12 athletes and one coach at a time. So it’s not truly team bonding if it’s a fraction of the team at a time. 

The general public has seen, on multiple occasions, college and professional athletes testing positive for COVID-19. One of these athletes include the projected No. 1 NFL draft pick in 2021, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. If someone who is supposed to take serious precautions during the pandemic catches COVID-19, then what is stopping the average high school athlete from catching it as well?

People contract COVID-19 when exposed to someone through actions like coughing, breathing, and sneezing. All of these occur when playing most any sport. If my teammates aren’t socially distant, then there could easily be another case added to the list of millions of people who have already caught the coronavirus.

Some might argue that there is no need to stress out about the athletes since they are not likely  to experience the side effects of COVID-19. While this is true, athletes can still transfer the virus to those who are at high risk, such as coaches and staff.

In college football, there have already been 19 confirmed positive tests for college football coaches. This includes Alabama’s coach, Nick Saban, one of the best college coaches of all time, Kent State’s coach Sean Lewis, and University of Florida’s coach Dan Mullen. 

In many cases, COVID-19 has been shown to have longterm effects like heart damage, lung damage, and blood clots especially for older people and those with serious medical problems. This means there is a higher risk for older coaches and staff to face the long term effects of COVID-19.

Why would schools risk not just the athlete’s health but the coaches as well?

As a water polo player, I really do miss playing sports. I love making new friends and the competitive games we play weekly. But if we keep allowing these weekly practices, I and other athletes and coaches may have to wait much longer to experience those feelings again.