Why Spring Sports Should Continue

Kendall Streba, Staff Writer

Over the last four months, COVID-19’s trail of terror has been left on countries, shutting down schools, businesses, stores, restaurants and all of the world’s major sport leagues.
About 40 states, including Illinois, have mandated that schools will stay closed until the official end of the school year. In most cases, spring sports in schools have been put on pause. Since schools will not reopen this academic year, many athletic directors statewide have a decision to make: should the spring athletic season continue or be canceled altogether?
All athletes deserve a chance to play, and the spring athletes should be no different.
Eight North sports teams including boy’s volleyball, tennis, and baseball, girl’s soccer, softball, and badminton, and both boy’s and girl’s lacrosse/track, not only have been paused but no return date has been set, leaving student athletes wondering if they will even get to play.
The concept of no sports is a shot to the heart for all spring athletes, but especially ones who are graduating in 2020. Many of these senior student athletes have, before the COVID-19 pandemic, committed to playing their sport in college and need to finalize the deal with their future school for freshman year. Other seniors may also need to participate in the spring season in order to be eligible to play in college.
Besides just needing the season for college reasons, senior students are missing out on all the celebrations they have been anticipating since they were freshmen. Typically, every sport holds a senior night for the senior athletes, as a tribute and thank you for the hard work they put into the program over the last four years.
They will also likely miss out on the possibility of becoming a team captain, which can help them teach and lead the younger players that will become the future of the sports program. As a captain, the athlete acts like a mentor to the younger players, which can have an important impact on their lives and their performance in the sport.
For many of the athletes, the sport they play has grown with them throughout their childhood and teen years. That’s close to 10 or more years of dedication, hard work, drive, long hours and days, tears, sweat and countless practices devoted into the sport.
Other than the senior athletes, freshmen, sophomores and juniors miss out on their season as well. Freshmen athletes do not get the opportunity to enjoy their first season as a high schooler, which for some players can help them improve their talents, such as teamwork, engaging with others and specific skills needed to play their sport. Sophomores and juniors are stripped of the opportunity to make their debut on junior varsity or varsity.
The spring sports season can certainly be salvaged, when the coronavirus situation in Illinois improves. Athletes can play with a limited audience, or in some cases, like tennis or badminton matches, limit the number of courts and players in the gym at one time. If time is an issue, athletes can play a shortened season that limits the number of practices, matches or games played in a week.
However, if none of this is possible in the coming weeks, senior athletes could still play a special senior-only summer season that allows them to play against other seniors in different schools. That way, the athletes are still allowed to play their sport in high school for one last time and get to enjoy the celebrations that follow. The rest of the athletes can have another shot at playing during the next school year.
In the end, no matter the grade, athletes should be allowed to have a chance to play, even if it is a short or modified season. Millions of people are going through tough times currently, which means society needs sports more than ever to show unity and one love for a common past time.