Club sports and COVID-19
By Noah Stern
On Aug. 12, the Big South Conference announced that all division-one fall sports would be canceled for the 2020 season. Sports that usually play in the fall still have hope to play in the spring, with the conference not committing to fully canceling their seasons. This leaves the question: what will club sports look like this season with division-one canceling their fall seasons? As of right now, the fall club sports seasons are very uncertain, and there is not much known about what’s going to happen.
For the club sports that began practices the week of sept. 21, there are plenty of restrictions that will be in place for each sport. One of the most difficult protocols to deal with is that indoor sports are only allowed to have 10 people practice at once. Outdoor sports are only allowed to have 25 people on the field at a time.
This is clearly a problem, as almost no sports will be able to practice with their entire teams. Teams will have to set timed intervals for certain groups of the team to practice, hindering the chemistry of the team and each player’s practice time.
“We have the freshman practicing separate from us, which makes it difficult to get to know them,” said club baseball member Harris Eisenberg.
Team sports require cohesion and unity to succeed. Without practicing together, it’s nearly impossible to achieve that type of connection during games. There are also protocols to get into practice. Each student-athlete must make sure that they have completed and be cleared in their respective daily health check.
Each athlete must also have their temperature taken before they are able to practice. Temperatures below 100.4 degrees are acceptable; otherwise, athletes are not allowed to practice, and the information is sent to the club sports office. Masks must be worn at all times when athletes are not practicing. A mask is not required while practicing, as long as there is social distancing between teammates.
Paige Eley, coordinator of Club Sports,
encourages students to continue to follow COVID-19 protocol outside of the practice field.
“We want our students to be able to have a fall season, and we hope that students continue to wear their masks and practice social distancing outside of practice so that we can have a successful season,” said Eley.
However, it is difficult to know you have the virus if you’re asymptomatic. So, what happens if a student-athlete on one of the rosters contracts the virus?
If a team member becomes infected with COVID-19, they must quarantine for two weeks. Any other team members close to them during practice, or who made contact with them, must also quarantine. The sport will continue to be played, but those quarantined won’t be able to practice with the team.
“We have been working with the sports medicine department and varsity athletics to determine how we can make this season a success for club sports,” said Eley.
She mentioned that a major part of why club sports is taking place is because of the phases that North Carolina has set in place for COVID-19. The state’s current Phase 2.5 allows for 25-person indoor gatherings with social distancing and 50-person outside gatherings with social distancing. These statewide protocols helped the club sports team to create their own extra precautions for each team and relay them to coaches.
“The coaches have been extremely communicative and very helpful with updates about how their sports are going,” said Eley. “They are great about attending each meeting and are very supportive of us.”
The coaches must be very wary of how their athletes are participating in practice and must try their best to make sure athletes are taking care of themselves outside of practice.
This is a different kind of season. It’s certainly not ideal with the amount of policies and restrictions that have been put in place.
“It is what it is,” said Eisenberg. “Obviously, as a player, you just want to play the season. However many policies there are, we have to deal with it. We want to play.”
Sports are supposed to be played for fun and to win. For this season, however, the most important thing is everyone’s safety.