The coronavirus has affected many day-to-day activities for everyone, and high school sports are certainly no exception. Over the years, sporting events have been a focal point of the classic “high school experience” and with a big portion of that snatched away, student athletes are doing their best to adapt to this unprecedented time at the start of the 2020-2021 season.
With the pandemic still affecting the everyday lives of students participating in sports, there are several precautions that administrators are taking to try and keep the athletes and coaches safe. Procedures at practices consist of wearing masks and social distancing as much as possible. At sporting events, it’s a Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) requirement that there is a limit of two spectators per athlete in attendance.
“At first it was really bad and we only had three games we could play,” junior Ethan Houk said. “Then we got the mandate where we could actually play more games which is great. At first we didn’t have to wear masks while we were playing. Now we have to wear them. It’s been weird and different, but we are actually able to play.”
Parents and students have differing opinions with the belief that there is very low risk when engaging in sports this year. While athletes have made different decisions regarding their participation in sports this year, many continue to put in the hard work to pull off this last minute season.
AnnMarie Erickson, parent of athletes Jack and Jessica Erickson believes that there are greater risks than COVID to students and that the athletes should make the decision that’s best for them in regards to their 2020-2021 athletic season.
“I believe student athletes can safely play sports,” AnnMarie said. “There are inherent risks to almost everything we do in life. Healthy student athletes are currently more likely to be adversely affected by other physical or mental health issues than COVID. Athletes do not have to play if they are uncomfortable doing so.”
The lack of attendance has been hard on athletes by not having their peers there to support them.
“I have been having a hard time to find motivation,” Houk said. “I did have a mindset that we weren’t going to play so I was planning on that and what I was going to do with my time. So when we figured out we were actually going to play I had to change my mindset and put it back on soccer. When you focus on the game and how it works it’s great. When you calm down and focus on the game and really be confident in your abilities, the whole process of playing is fun and enjoyable.”
Although students can’t attend sporting events in person, there are still other ways to stay involved with the athletics at DHS. Participating in spirit days and watching the live streams for football and volleyball are ways that students, parents, and staff can show their support. The first home swim meet was also covered online. Keeping up with the scores is another way that students can stand behind the athletes.
“[NFHS Network] is broadcasting volleyball and football so people can support us from there,” senior Gabby Wilson said. “If it’s all you have and the best that you can get, then we support that.”
While there are differing opinions regarding the COVID precautions administrators have put in place for the students, athletes and coaches are having to adjust to the changes that this year entails.