A World Without Sports
by Lacey Bartholomay '20 and CJ Sheperdson '20
Athletics are a major part of life in our school community as well as the United States, but for almost a week now, the sports world, as we know it, has been decimated by the coronavirus. March Madness, The NBA, The NHL, The Masters are just some of the events that have been canceled or postponed due to the virus. Not only has it affected athletics at the collegiate and professional levels, but it has had a major impact on our school community as well. All of the spring sports are on pause for the moment with no idea when or if the seasons will continue.
This has had a big emotional impact on a lot of the athletes and especially the seniors. Senior lacrosse player Luke Fisher said, “It’s terrible to work so hard for four years and then have your last season cut off.” He talked about how the team is trying to stay connected and stay in shape still as they are hopeful the season will return. As a senior spring athlete myself, it is terrible that this has to happen right now. I have been very emotional thinking that I may never play with my best friends again but I am trying to keep as much hope as possible but I also know that this is the right thing to do, and it is important for us to stay healthy.
Coach Phillips talked to us about how important it is for the teams to stay together with the hope that the season will return; he said, “obviously, this is a bit of a hiccup.” But he thinks it is important for the teamwork and family aspect to continue. He talked about how important sports are to people, saying that people are not “up moving and working, which a lot of people rely on for their personal health and their mental health as well.” Through all of this Coach Phillips is hopeful that “everyone can stay positive and be hopeful for the spring season to return”
Q&A with Coach Koroma
1) What are the impacts of Coronavirus on the spring athletic season? - Unfortunately, Coronavirus will have huge impacts on the spring season. As of today (3/17/2020) many schools in Virginia are unlikely to return to campus until after Easter, April 13th, with the potential to be out longer. We have already had to cancel three weeks of games that will be difficult to make up. I think it is likely for schools to prioritize league and district games once they return but many games will be lost. This is really hard on spring athletes and especially seniors where so much of their identity is based on their participation and love of their sport.
2) What about the fall? Recruiting? For the fall we hopefully should be ok as many games are already in place but the course of Coronavirus is yet to be seen. Some people are talking about the possibility of a resurgence in the fall similar to Spanish Influenza in 1918 after World War I. There are also potential impacts on recruiting that may cause the NCAA to make some changes, and for coaches and athletes to get creative on finding ways to evaluate a player if they can’t seem them play in person or on game film from this spring. It's really too early to know how deep the impacts will be.
3) What about the possibility of playing sports without fans? Sports with fans is interesting and I think depends on the level. At the professional level, sports are very much about entertainment so no fans seem odd and strange. But these players are also being paid and all games are filmed and broadcast so fans can still watch. Obviously the colleges went here first and then completely canceled based on new guidelines. I still personally feel that playing with no fans is better than not playing at all. Many athletes don’t play the game because they know people are watching, they play because they love it, are passionate about their sport, love competing and love being on a team. Spectators are always nice to have but not essential to the athlete’s experience. I wonder what high schools will decide to do on this if we are allowed to return and continue playing.
4) What’s the emotional impact of no sports? - Gosh soooo much to say here. I am feeling it myself. Sports is what I love and what I am involved in every day. To have that taken away is simply crushing. For many, it may be the highlight of their day (athletes, coaches, fans). In my opinion, getting to compete and watching others compete fills my soul and now without it, there is an empty hole. I can only imagine what our alums are feeling who just lost their seasons and how our current students are feeling with the knowledge that their seasons are in jeopardy, particularly seniors. In our society, sports is part of our culture (at least for so many) so to have it taken away leaves a big gap that is difficult to fill. This goes for all the way from youth sports leagues all the way to the professional ranks. The number of people that participate in sports, coach sports, referee sports, or just watch sports is staggering. I know there are people like those in our athletic department who are committed to helping our athletes and coaches work through this loss and to brainstorm ways to still stay connected until we can all be out there again.