Sports in the time of COVID-19: Athletes adjust to safety parameters

Grace Cook ‘21, Sports Section Editor

Earlier this summer, America held its breath in anticipation of whether or not the fall sports season would actually occur. Since then, we have been relieved with the fact that fall sports are-a-go, albeit with modifications. Undeniably, sports have faced setbacks during the time of COVID, but commitment, hope, and perseverance has allowed local teams to continue playing on despite the challenges.

Cross country, compared to other sports, has been fairly lucky this season. The South Lyon boys’ and girls’ teams have been able to practice since June with the use of masks and social distancing. Senior captain Brooke Ziolkowski said, “Cross country has definitely taken COVID better than other sports because we can easily spread out.” Being a low contact sport certainly comes with benefits. Various traditional events of the season have still been taken away, nonetheless. The female team’s annual Sault Ste. Marie trip was cancelled, and their overnight summer camp had to be modified into a day camp. Consequently, the team put effort into creating more socially-distanced bonding events to make up for their losses.

Junior Kyra Karfonta, who plays club soccer, said that the most notable changes to her team are the use of masks and lack of high-fives at the end of games. As expected, many of her soccer tournaments have been cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreaks, but that has not dimmed her enthusiasm for the season. The pros of playing soccer this year are that she gets to socialize, stay active, and have fun with her team. The cons: according to Karfonta, there are not any.

Football, on the other hand, has faced greater challenges in returning to the stadiums. The South Lyon High School football team started practices in June; however, they were not able to train with contact until much later in the summer. Jason Seiter, a freshman football player, has high hopes for the season despite pandemic setbacks to training and authentic practicing. Like many other players, Seiter feels that there are many benefits to participating in sports this season: “[Sports] are a sense of normal. We get to be together doing what we love,” he said.

On the sidelines, Cheer is struggling with their own obstacles. Senior Cheerleader Emily Henderson states that despite the COVID-19 limitations, she is happy that cheer can still attend games. The high-contact cheer team was not allowed to practice stunts until early fall, and lost their summer camp as well. Additionally, the loss of fans took a heavy toll on both the cheer and football teams. Henderson said, “It isn’t the same [to] cheer to the stands when they aren’t loud and full.” Like various other sport players, Henderson is glad to have a season at all, although she wishes it could be the same as years past.

So let’s face it: all sports are different this year. Whether a student plays cross country, soccer, football, cheer, or any other sport, their season has been affected in a meaningful way. Teams have been meeting challenges since early summer, and they’ve persevered If 2020 has taught us anything so far, it is the power of this perseverance through life’s challenges. Athletes at South Lyon have not given up; instead players have stepped up with grit to continue the activities they are passionate about. COVID-19 has showcased the creativity, thoughtfulness, and sheer determination of our players to forge their “new normal.” In return for their hard work, sports have provided many with a social haven and sense of belonging that can be hard to find in an isolated society. Let’s go Lions!

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