High-risk sports take on the Coronavirus Pandemic

In early January, Schreiber athletics began to slowly return to play, albeit with many precautions.   A few of these designated safety measures include wearing masks while social distancing on the sidelines, having temperature checks, using little to no shared equipment, and disinfecting the used equipment meticulously following a game/match or practice.  

The decision to start up winter high-risk winter sports, which are basketball, wrestling, and competitive cheerleading, came after much thought and guidance by New York State. 

“I’ve stressed to our athletic administrators just yesterday that they need to stress to their coaches the need to be diligent to keep the safety of our student-athletes as the No. 1 priority,” said Pat Pizzarelli, the executive director for Section VIII athletics.

Many student-athletes are excited by this news, while others are speculating if high-risk sports should be taking place.  On one hand, these sports can contribute to already high COVID-19 positivity rates in the Port Washington community.  In addition, the spread of the more deadly and transmissible variants further complicates this issue.

On the other hand, the playing of these high-risk sports can help to build back up Schreiber’s school spirit and pride in an otherwise bleak time.  Practicing every day and working as a team can also greatly improve teenagers’ mental health.  For almost a year now, students have not been able to participate in their normal activities, such as going to a movie theater or spending time with others in a larger group setting.  Most teenagers’ lives have been put on pause, resulting in many feeling depressed, bored, and discouraged.

“I feel very passionate about this… I think the more we can have a normal life for our children, the better off we are… I’m excited to get our kids back on the fields, and the courts and the rinks that they love so much and to bring a little normal back into their lives,” said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran in a press release.

With high-risk fall sports football and volleyball forging ahead during March and April and student-athletes now permitted to attend class in-person, it is clear that testing on a more frequent basis is necessary.  Currently, Schreiber athletes are only being tested once a week. 

“The more frequently everyone is tested, the safer high-risk sports will be.  People can easily spread coronavirus without showing symptoms.  More testing will limit the chance of this happening,” said sophomore Chloe Fanous. 

Aside from increased testing, all student-athletes could be asked to sign a strictly enforced contract concerning their behavior with respect to COVID-19 safety.  This contract could prohibit student-athletes from being with groups of people unmasked, from not actively attempting to stay socially distanced, from wearing their mask incorrectly, and more.  If the contract is broken, the athlete would not be allowed to rejoin the team immediately.  This could include being suspended from  games or matches, or even being kicked off of the team completely.

“I do not think that the main cause of coronavirus spreading has to do with schools.  I believe that it is what happens outside of school, like students meeting up with their friends maskless,” said sophomore Zoe Edelblum. 

Now that student-athletes are allowed to attend school in person on their respective color day, increased mandatory testing and strict enforcement of a safety contract would allow students to achieve their best success both on the court or field and in the classroom.