By JEET JAGTAP ‘24 and MADHAV MANDALA ‘24
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only affected lives in school but also impacted a majority of extracurricular activities, sports suffering the most. Nevertheless, many individuals are still trying to find ways to continue participating, either at home or at different facilities, no matter what safety precautions must be adhered to. Parents’ approval is integral for these students to continue participating in their sports, having the final say as to what their child is allowed to take part in.
Elements that affect participation in sports during COVID-19 include physical contact, the exclusion of masks during games, and insufficient testing. Surprisingly, no one interviewed mentioned required COVID tests.
“In order to make sure everyone is safe, we have to wear masks on the bus to games, fill out a COVID-19 form before we come to a game or practice that asks us whether we have had symptoms or if we know anyone who has had the virus,” said Ishaan Shetty ‘24, a freshman soccer player. “And before we start doing anything, our coach checks our temperature to see if we are okay to play.”
However, these measures are proven to not be fully adequate statewide. Schools all over New Jersey are not paying enough attention to the risks that are posed by everyday practice and matches. With CDC reports of symptoms appearing 2-14 days after exposure to COVID-19, the problems with insufficient testing become apparent. Once the symptoms start to show, the infected player most likely has spread the virus to those around them.
The procedures athletes take once they get home from practice is significant as well to understand preventative measures. It is important that the athlete properly sanitizes not only themselves but also their belongings to decrease a potential threat towards their friends and family. A common response that we received was immediately taking a shower and sanitizing their hands.
Taha Shaikh ‘24, also a freshman football player, had also taken extra precautions. “I sanitize my helmet and do a light wash for my clothes. Other than that, I do a weekly wash of all my clothes,” he said.
When asked the pivotal question as to how their parents felt about COVID-19 and how they adjusted to the situation, the answers were similar. After inquiring about their parents’ current role in their sports, almost all interviewed athletes responded by saying their parents provide them with transportation and attend games when possible while maintaining social distance and wearing a mask. When asked how their parents feel about COVID-19 in relation to sports, athletes responded with once again relatively similar comments, most consisting of positive feedback and hopefulness for the continuation of sports.
Agastya Kalagarla ‘24, a freshman cross country runner, spoke of his and his parents’ optimism.
“My parents and I share similar opinions. As long as procedures are properly followed, we are positive about attending sports,” Kalagarla said.
The parents of Aleksey Sergeev ‘24, a freshman soccer player for J.P. Stevens, said, “We feel the same about sports as other activities during COVID-19. If people social distance and are careful, then they should go on.”
Despite some drawbacks, many athlete’s parents had a positive input on playing sports during COVID-19. All interviewees’ parents allowed their children to participate in school sports and attended as many games as they could. People are trying to bring life back to normal, not only from a student perspective, but also for their families.