ARE SPORTS MORE IMPORTANT THAN OUR HEALTH?
With the dangers of COVID-19 still apparent, the debate is whether or not sports are worth the risk.
November 20, 2020
Volleyball, football, swimming, soccer. Whether one is someone who plays a sport or just goes to the games and meets, sports can be enjoyable for anyone. With the announcement of COVID-19 earlier this year and the canceling of schools in March, many students were devastated and disappointed to find out they were also canceling sports games and practices.
Now, as schools are opening up, fall sports and practices are also starting. Since the reopening of schools on September 16, there have been 123 confirmed cases of COVID according to the COVID-19 dashboard on the School District website. 57 employees and 66 students have been infected around the county since in-person instructions began. This begs the question, are sports, where kids are practicing in close proximity with little protection, safe for students and coaches?
Although The School District of Palm Beach County Athletics has created a COVID-19 re-engagement plan for Fall sports that, according to Karole Hannah, the girl’s volleyball coach and physical education teacher, “outlines in great detail how we have operated, are operating and will operate for this season,” the plan does not take away all dangers making the answer to this question still unclear.
The decision of participation in sports this year is a risky and difficult one to make for both student athletes and coaches. It is impossible to ensure that everyone is in good health and stays that way, proving that holding off sports could be the better decision.
Head coach of the football team and the boy’s weightlifting team, James Clark, however, believes that “[the re-engagement] plan is all about precautions, and while they may not be convenient, and this may be a hard way to practice and play our games, it is absolutely necessary for safety reasons.” Clark, as a coach, is very confident in Palm Beach County and believes they are doing everything right regarding bringing back sports. He has no worries about sports and practices resuming, but is still trying to be as safe as possible.
On the other hand, unlike Clark, Hannah has more worries and feels she has no choice in the matter. She feels like she made a commitment to her players. “Of course I worry about getting sick, my family getting sick, my players getting sick, or our program being shut down. The reality is that I have a job to do as an educator and a coach,” Hannah said. Hannah, like many other teachers, coaches and students still has some concerns about the reopening of schools and the resuming of sports.
Senior Ryan Bourne who plays soccer, said, “Honestly, I think it is risky […] how practices are being allowed.”
Similar to Bourne, junior and football player Joshua Miles will not be returning to school or playing in any sports this year despite his longing to do so. “I just think it’s not the right time to play any sports right now,” Miles said.
Weighing the health of students and coaches against the need for sports is a dangerous task to do. Despite the safety precautions being pushed in schools, new COVID cases are being reported everyday. It would seem that sports are nowhere near as important as the health of others, but still a portion of opinions include that the safety precautions for sports are everything that need to be and although there are risks, those risks are worth taking, while another portion feel as if this is still not the right time for sports to start back up despite the precautions being taken. The debate over whether or not sports are more important than our health continues.