COVID-19’s Effect on Sports

March 25, 2021

Feb. 19, 2020 – the last day that we stepped on a field together. 

It has now been almost 12 months since we last laced up our boots, but we finally resumed play on Feb. 9. We were given a second chance to play the game that we love, for after what felt like an eternity away from my teammates.

Unlike Feb. 2020, this year looks very different. Every player is required to wear masks; players aren’t allowed to socialize outside of practice and social distancing is a part of our daily lives. Yet, with a different appearance to the world’s most beautiful game, on the field, it never changed. 

I still love this game just as much if not more. It has done so much for me over the years and I will do whatever it takes to compete on the field every day.

My teammates all seemed to share this opinion and on the first day of practice, you could not see the faces of each teammate, but you could tell that they were smiling from ear to ear. After all the strenuous and annoying suspension of Pierce College athletics, the team had never been more ecstatic to compete. We had 12 months of energy and passion balled up inside waiting to be poured out on the soccer field. 

Playing for Pierce College’s men’s soccer program has been one of the most enriching experiences of my young adult life. It has brought me new friends, new possibilities and a chance to play at the collegiate level. Yet all of that would be put on hold when the Covid-19 pandemic took over all of our lives.

Back in February of last year, the team was in good spirits and met for the first time since Nov. 2019. We had a new class of recruits to build upon a strong list of returning players, who represented essential leadership going forward into a new season later that year. 

The previous season ended with a devastating 1-0 defeat in the first round of the NWAC playoffs. We were left with a bitter taste in our mouths and knew we had to push ourselves to the maximum during the off-season.

Consequently, our off-season was postponed when all Pierce College athletics were suspended in March 2020. This was a hard pill to swallow as the opportunity to strive as a program was stripped away from us. The team could no longer meet in person, workout together, or even hang out outside of practice, we were deprived of the opportunity to play the sport that we loved.

Although, this didn’t stop us from persevering through the separation of players, as we engaged in individual workouts and training sessions. Our coaches required us to download and participate in a virtual training app called Techne Futbol. 

We were required to complete five hours of training sessions each week, as the app would track our minutes. This created a competitive atmosphere between the players who wanted to improve the most, but it lacked accountability.

Fast-forwarding throughout the off-season, our start-up date continued to be pushed back further and further. We were originally told April, then July, then August, then December, and finally January.

The team continued to get our hopes up for a return to play, but our hopes were crushed every few months. It was hard to gauge when we had to turn on the jets and train hard for the season and created an emotionally draining process that left us feeling grim. Yet, when given the first opportunity to return to the field, we took it, even if that meant wearing a mask knowing that we were healthy.

From now until the end of the season we are required to wear masks at all times, from when we step out of our cars until we leave. I have been wearing masks for months now and have become accustomed to wearing them in indoor places, but never while running outside. The majority of us aren’t in game shape going into the first weeks of training and wearing a mask while running only makes these matters worse. 

I am all for taking priority in players’ health, but it can’t be doubted that masks bring performance complications and hinder the amount of oxygen that we take in. According to our Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson, our state government and the NWAC are moving forward in hopes of not wearing masks during games, which would be applauded by players who on average run seven miles per match.

Our current safety protocols include filling out a health check form every day that we meet, temperature checks before entering the field, and applying hand sanitizer before each competition. These protocols may cause extra pain and add to more things to remember daily, but they have the best interest of players in mind. 

The thing that I will miss most is having fans at every game. Seeing my friends, family, and fellow students at each game adds to the motivation and competitive atmosphere. My parents never missed a game last year and were disappointed by the news, and I’m sure that they still find some way to watch my games. For everyone else, our games will be streamed online which expands our outreach but takes away the in-person spark that fans fuel you with as a player.

This season is unlike any other season, but I will trade Covid-19 protocols any day of the week if it gave me the opportunity to step foot on the soccer field one last time. All I can ask for is an opportunity to prove myself as a player and a man, thankfully I got the opportunity this winter. 

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