Game Off?

The pandemic has cast uncertainty on this winter’s sports season.

Jamey Simon, Staff

No student-athlete plans for a global pandemic to interrupt their season, but alas, winter school sports teams are finding themselves in this very situation.

When the virus first hit hard back in March and schools were cancelled, sports teams faced a cancellation of the spring season. Most athletes imagined that the virus would be gone come wintertime, and practices and games would resume. But that is not the case at present.

Public health matters have gotten worse. As of December 1st, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced that there were 5,676 more cases, which brings the statewide total up to a whopping 367,140.

Winter sports are in jeopardy, and coaches and athletes are both lost and uncertain about what will go down. Many of these winter sports—swimming and diving, indoor track and field, hockey, basketball, and several others—are awaiting news from the state regarding the viability of the season. 

Megan Quinlan, a junior on the Track and Field Team, is eager to see her team back in action.

”We are planning on going back to track, but we will be outside a lot more of the time,” Quinlan explained. “We are being separated into pods of people, so we won’t be around too many others.”

Although she wishes the season were normal, Quinlan is maintaining a positive attitude.

It will be harder to have a season this year, but I know the coaches are trying their best to make it happen, and I’m glad we have the opportunity to have a season at all.”

— Megan Quinlan, junior

“It will be harder to have a season this year, but I know the coaches are trying their best to make it happen, and I’m glad we have the opportunity to have a season at all,” she said.

Now that North Allegheny has announced plans to continue remote learning into January, student-athletes are even more concerned that a return to normalcy may be further off than they had expected. Will their seasons be cancelled, or will they have different guidelines for practice than they did even a week ago?

Hayden Watson, a junior on the Hockey Team, is afraid of the uncertainty regarding the season.

“We never know when our next game is going to be because the schedule is always changing with cases around the league,” he said. “One kid on the team tested positive, and then the whole team was quarantined and games were cancelled and so on.” 

Players and coaches have to be extremely flexible with the changing schedules of games and practices. 

“It is tough to get a rhythm into the season when the games are so inconsistent, but we have to adjust to the new normal until they get everything situated,” Watson said.

With the winter break on its way, officials expect yet another surge of cases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, hopes that Americans will stay home for the holidays.

 “People travel for Christmas, they congregate at parties, at social gatherings, and dinners,” Fauci said in an interview with the National Urban League. “The months of December and January are going to be very problematic.”

North Allegheny has issued a presentation addressing how the district will be handle winter sports this year. In the statement, the district stipulates that all student-athletes, coaches, and staff undergo health screening prior to the workout, event, or team meeting. Hand-washing and facial masks will also be enforced. 

Throughout the surely difficult months ahead, coaches and student-athletes will continue to hope for some semblance of a winter season, even if they must come to terms with unavoidable uncertainties.