Athletes question safety with uncertain returns to sports

Julia Weinrod

The NBA and MLB are back in session, but what about DCIAA? This year, DC high school sports will continue, but business is not as usual, with many changes in effect due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

One major change is that the DCSAA and DCIAA fall sports seasons have been postponed to February, but DC is not the only part of the DMV where student athletes are facing upheaval. In comparison, the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA) has moved fall and winter sports to a two-semester plan starting in 2021. In Virginia, the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Executive Committee chose to begin the winter season on December 14, with the fall season coming after. All three localities will cancel their plans if a spike in cases occurs before or during the Winter season.

Understandably, some coaches and athletes are scared to return to practices and games. One such coach is Dr. Perette Arrington, head coach of the Wilson volleyball team for 21 years. She said, “I am concerned about contracting COVID-19 and/or spreading it to my family members.” Arrington knows that “so many young people aren’t concerned,” leaving her at risk. 

On the other hand, one of her players, sophomore Julia Black, said, “I’m just happy that I’m going to be returning to the sport I love,” although she still harbors concerns about sharing a small court with eleven other girls.

Black has been practicing independently for months and misses being coached to improve. She is lucky enough to have a net and equipment at home, but other athletes may not be so fortunate, and their skills will suffer. Arrington believes performance will also be impacted if students are later required to wear masks during games.

One question that remains is how much safer outdoor sports are than indoor sports. Liza Lindblom, a junior on the girls varsity soccer team says that “if soccer was an indoor sport, I’d be a lot more concerned because I heard it spreads easier inside.” Current DCSAA guidelines say that indoor and outdoor practices must allow six feet between students.

In order to respond to concerns, Wilson coaches alongside Athletic Director Mitch Gore have been preparing for safe in-person training and events for months. In addition, new DCSAA rules mandate temperature checks, lots of hand sanitizer, and workouts that are limited to a maximum of 10 people.

Some questions remain and will be decided later this year: which sports will not be allowed to take place this year? Who will be allowed to spectate? Will there be Wilson Live? No one knows if our teams will be able to reclaim their championships, but no matter which sports return and when, Wilson Tiger pride is strong as ever.