Playing by choice

Opinion

With the Department of Public Health (DPH) continually changing their rules and regulations regarding sports through the time of COVID-19, athletes, coaches, and other members of the Kingswood Oxford community are powerless in this situation. We have many questions of our own, such as, what is going to happen? How will I be impacted? Will I have a season? However, no athlete should have to worry about these issues; they should just have the opportunity to play their sport.

The Connecticut DPH has most recently announced that there is still hope for a fall season. “The COVID-19 pandemic does not mean all organized sports should stop,” acting DPH Commissioner Deirdre S. Gifford said. “In fact, DPH recognizes the importance of physical activity for the health and well-being of everyone during this stressful period.” However, the DPH has not been communicating with the people regularly, leaving everyone constantly wondering what is going on.

The DPH broke up sports into three categories by their risk factor. High-risk COVID-19 sports include wrestling, 11-on-11 football, boys lacrosse, competitive cheer, and dance. According to the DPH, they are defined as sports that involve “close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers, and the high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.” 

Moderate risk COVID-19 sports are basketball, soccer, tennis, girls lacrosse, volleyball, water polo, swimming relays, rowing/crew (with two or more rowers in a shell), baseball, softball, gymnastics, ice hockey, high jump, long jump, pole vault, and 7-on-7 football. These sports involve close, sustained contact, but they’re played with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants. 

Low-risk COVID-19 sports include individual running events, running (with staggered starts), weightlifting, rowing/crew (with single sculling), throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual swimming, golf, alpine skiing/snowboarding, sideline cheer, and cross country. The DPH said these are “sports that can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors.”

The DPH understands how important sports are to athletes across Connecticut and is not trying to cancel sports but rather modify or postpone “high-risk” sports’ seasons in order to make it work with the given circumstances.

 Breaking up these sports into different risk categories does not make much sense to me. I know of athletes at every level of risk that have contracted the virus. The precautions that the organization took after were appropriate and ensured the safety of others involved. So why can’t this be the case with all sports in Connecticut? 

If the virus ends up being contracted by somebody, then the organization should do what is necessary to ensure the safety of everyone involved. The risk of COVID-19 at any sporting event is inevitable.

It is unfair to the athletes that compete at a “high-risk” level to modify or postpone their season, while at the same time sports that are considered “low risk” or “moderate risk” have more and more cases popping up every day. All athletes should be allowed to play their sport if they are willing to accept the risks and precautions set in place.