Good examples will preserve college athletics

The time of the year has come again for college sports the kick back into action full throttle, but one certain pandemic has put all the excitement to a halt for most college student-athletes in the United States.

With COVID-19 taking the world by storm in January of 2020, it made everyone question whether the Tokyo Olympics event was going to go on in the summer despite the pandemic and most of the world being quarantined for months. Once the Olympic committee came to a decision to postpone the Tokyo Olympics to the summer of 2021, it started the so-called “domino effect” on college sports all over the world.

It didn’t take long for colleges to reconsider how athletics were going to proceed this fall. Most college athletics carefully put together a plan to have their athletes compete, some cancelled their seasons altogether, and now it’s becoming more common to see that colleges are cutting athletic programs altogether because of a tight budget.

Major university conferences in the US such as the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference) have decided to postpone their seasons until further notice but will still allow training for athletes on campus while doing virtual school. Meanwhile, the Big 10 Conference is still struggling to make an official decision after Iowa University saw some major athletic cuts this past week.

Although teams across the country are trying to make it as safe as possible for athletes, they are still being pressured by those around them to go through with the fall season as planned before COVID-19. As more and more colleges pull out of their regular scheduled season, more are expected to do the same.

Highly competitive universities are already taking action with procedures in place for fans and athletes to return, like University of Virginia (UVA). The athletics department is proceeding to play all required matches to be eligible to compete in the NCAA Championships, even though all have been cancelled for this athletic season.

A former Riverview student athlete was able to share her experiences on her college move-in this past week to UVA. Emma Weyant, a national champion in the Women’s 400 IM in 2019, committed to the UVS swim team in the spring of 2019, but she had to postpone her move-in date due to COVID.

“So, although nothing is going to look the same this year, UVA has done a really good job making sure all the athletes stay in a “bubble” so that we are hopefully able to go on with our seasons. As of right now, we are training as if a season is happening and athletics has us following a bunch of strict protocols,” Ram graduate Emma Weyant said.

As more and more colleges start to open up their campuses again for students, the higher the risk is of getting COVID-19. It is important for Universities to follow guidelines set in order to keep campuses open. The University of North Carolina recently had to shut down the campus and send students home after new clusters of cases started to show up in the first week. Now, athletics are cancelled for the year as well.

This is not the first university to receive an outbreak of the virus, and it certainly won’t be that last. By other universities setting the proper example on how to handle COVID-19 and students returning to campus, athletics and academics will most likely turn out just fine. This causes the good domino effect. If someone is willing to step up and be a leader during these hard times, more definitely will follow.

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© 2019 Bek Ficze 21'