Sports distancing

Fall sports continue to play through the pandemic with restrictions


Photo by, Tenley Wright

During the pandemic, students are being restricted from attending different sports events. The administration is allowing limited people into some of the games, and other sports will have no attendees.

Garrett Wilcoxen, Staff Reporter

For six long months, high schoolers have been waiting for sports to come back. Students missed the baseball, soccer, track and many other sports 2020 spring seasons. This fall, sports are moving forward in their seasons, and the first thing the students who have been waiting for them get is restrictions. Some sports are taking extreme precautionary measures and not tolerating any spectators, while others are allowing small percentages of people to go. Along with social distancing, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer, now over half the school won’t be able to attend the events either.

Once COVID-19 started to take hold in the United States near the end of February, all sports everywhere were cancelled within a few weeks. Many students had no clue when they would start back up again and were afraid it would be longer than it has been. The fact that they started sports again is beneficial to the players, but the fact that all students will no longer be able to attend is upsetting. The best times can come from going to sports games with friends, and when that is taken away, so is students’ ability to socialize. 

A study called the Social Identity Theory supports this claim. It states that people are motivated to behave in ways that maintain and boost their self-esteem while at sports games. In the article “sports affiliation and self esteem” by Merrit Posten, it relates this theory to when people go to sports games and almost automatically become a more social person. For Omaha Public Schools students, who have cancelled all fall sports, they get no part in these games at all. Along with this, the senior athletes don’t get to even experience their last year of high school sports. This can have an extremely negative effect on these schools students and players. In the article “The Relation between Sports Participation and Academic Achievement: The Mediating Role of Parental Support and Self-Esteem” by the website Pen Access Pub, it says that sports positively affect students academic achievements, and without them, students don’t perform as good in school. Some of the restrictions they have put in place hinder students from being able to have the same experiences they did last year. For example, they have to social distance before, during and after the games along with standing rather than sitting down at many sports. Even though these precautionary measures are in place, the administration should give all students the choice to attend the games, while still wearing masks along with being spread out.

Cross Country is one of few sports that has the ability to spread families and spectators out among the race. Although it has this possibility, they still made the choice to allow no more than three family members per student athlete at the races. However, there is no charge for the tickets, so they expect the viewers to abide by these regulations. Everyone that attends must be masked at these events and must leave as soon as their son or daughter finishes their race. I agree with the rules they have set in place about the masks, and how they expect people to leave as soon as their son or daughter finishes, but I disagree with the restrictions set about the amount of people able to attend. This is one of the few sports that actually has the space and ability to let a higher number of people spectate. Anyone can stand where they want within a 3.1 miles path. For example, football is confined in a much smaller space, and it is still allowing more people to attend. They have also lowered the number of people racing on their varsity teams to six, which is taking away some students’ spots to race. This sport has the ability to invite more people to watch, but doesn’t exercise the option.

Football is another one of the major sports in the fall. It had the highest amount of spectators in any sport last year, and according to last week’s game, it has significantly less this year. Aside from Millard West’s outstanding Striv producers which had over 3,000 viewers last week, the football stands were limited to four tickets per player, band member and cheerleader. Many of whom gave tickets to their families and close friends. This left a significantly lower number of students who were able to attend than the previous years. Those who were able to attend were asked to wear masks and social distance from others. I completely understand why they are putting these actions in place, and how it will help us get the sports experiences we lost back to normal, but I also recognize that students live for these games, and to lose them can be difficult. According to the article “When pro sports return, fans won’t be there: Experts debate ‘a significantly different game” by Chris Bumbaca on USA today, players perform differently when there are no fans around. The fans motivate them to win the games, and without them they don’t think the same.

Baseball and softball also usually have many students attend during their fall ball seasons. Some of the restrictions put in place for these sports are similar to the others. For example, baseball has implemented an only parent attendance rule. This means that no students will be able to attend any fall ball games. They also are taking out the bleachers, for social distancing and safety measures. Along with this umpires are not standing directly behind the catcher, and standing behind the pitching mound. This could be upsetting to some people because they had already lost spring games, and now fall games are restricted as well. Along with this all concessions offered in previous years will no longer be able to be sold at the games. I concur with the idea of no longer selling concessions, but there could have been more attendance changes. For example, they could have allowed a limited amount of students in rather than not allowing any at all. Even though they have a smaller area for spectators than many other sports, they could have given some of that space up to students. For example, they could do something like the Miami Dolphins who are allowing 17% of fans to watch the games from the stadium.

Many of the sports I have listed and even more are still constantly being berated with more restrictions. I understand they are creating these rules for spectators’ safety, but if students want to attend the games they should be able to. They are making the choice and what happens because of it is on them. Students shouldn’t have to watch their school’s fall sports seasons occur on television or hear about it after. They should be able to attend them in person with the mask and social distancing rules still applying.