Dealing with Covid-19 has been strenuous on everyone. It has closed down schools, businesses, and basically put everyone’s lives on hold. It has changed the way people interact with one another and how normal daily activities are conducted. One of the most significant dilemmas of the new era of Covid is how to safely play high school sports.
Sports around the country have been significantly impacted. From the cancellation of last year’s spring sports to the delay of 2020 fall sports, student athletes have been stripped of the opportunity to compete. In the spring, sports were canceled immediately after the outbreak of Covid-19. As weeks went on and the spread of the virus only got worse, the return of sports in the spring of 2020 was impossible. With high hopes to have fall sports, students continued to train over the summer hoping to have a season. Then the government said that all summer practices had to be delayed several months due to the overwhelming amount of cases. With athletes starting to lose hope of a fall season, morale was at an all time low.
Then in late July, the state allowed for practicing with strict social distancing requirements. As teams began to start back up again, every athlete knew that each day might be their last. With cases still rising and programs being forced to quarantine for two weeks due to possible exposure, each athlete was very grateful just for the opportunity to compete.
As fall sports finally began, there were many apparent differences between this season and how things used to be. From wearing masks on the sidelines to not being able to shake the opponent’s hand after a game, things were just not the same. Recently, starting quarterback for the Panthers, Charlie Vitale, was quarantined for two weeks because he was in contact with someone who had a COVID-19 scare. Although he was wearing a mask and maintained a distance of six feet, the state forced him to stay home. Charlie was reasonably upset with the unexpected quarantine and explained that, “[he] did everything right by wearing a mask and social distancing. However the state forced [him] to quarantine, making [him] miss the game against Manasquan.”
Even while following proper COVID-19 guidelines, players around the country are getting opportunities stripped from them. With the state officially shutting down football as of November 11th, the game was not only taken away from Charlie, but for everyone on the team. Although this season ended in disappointment, the Panthers are hopeful for a return to normalcy in the 2021-2022 school year.