After we came back to school for the 2020-21 school year, sports teams across the country saw a huge decrease in participation. With the pandemic, players were more reluctant to come and spend so much time in close contact with different people. Sometimes it was the students decisions, and other times it was the parents who chose to keep their children at home. Regardless of whose choice it was, the decrease drastically affected scoreboards in every sport.
At South High, last year’s girls and boys soccer both lost their JV teams as well as boys tennis, baseball, and girls & boys swimming and diving; there were barely enough players to have a varsity team. Sports including football, cheer, girls tennis, wrestling, basketball, volleyball, and cross country managed to keep a high number of players and were not too affected. Track and Field did not have a low number of athletes, but not many were on varsity.
The scores for South High teams were low across the entire board. There was not a team that played as good as they had in the past. One exception was Jessica Stratton, a senior at the time. She placed first at GWAL for girl’s tennis.
Many families were struggling financially and could not spare the money needed to pay different sports fees. Other cases involved younger siblings who needed someone to take care of them, which is where the high school athletes came in. These other responsibilities paused student athletes’ athletic careers temporarily.
This year, sports are already seeing more players, but the damage from last year is still visible. There still aren’t as many players coming out to play as there were in past years.
An unexpected way that the pandemic affected sports is through students’ grades. Online school was not successful for many people and failing grades meant they could not play. Final semester grades carried over into this year, so Fall athletes with low grades in the past semester could not participate this year.
Coaches are working hard to rebuild their programs for the upcoming years as we continue to work through the pandemic.