Where do I begin? With seasons being cancelled, quarantines and masks being required, and the hopes and dreams of athletes everywhere slowly losing motivation to fight for what we deserve, it seems like there is nothing that can be done to stop or turn around the irreversible, and everlasting damage and actions that have negatively affected the lives of so many athletes during this COVID-19 pandemic.
When this started, we were told it would be days, then weeks, then months. One season never finished the state championship games, and two separate seasons never even began. Fast forward to the start of the next school year, and still, nothing was promised. Everything was turned upside down. Sports were cast aside, put on the backburner, deemed irrelevant in the midst of a world-wide pandemic. Fast forward to today, with even more cancellations and postponements. With nothing changing, and no progress being made, still, we athletes do not have a sports season promised to us. When will it stop?
I am from a small community, a school that plays 1A sports, yet still, I am experiencing, first-hand, some of the hardships and tribulations that all other athletes in my community and position are going through. Some look at sports as a way to spend free time, but to us athletes, sports is a way of life. It is a coping mechanism, a stress relief, a way to center and balance our heart, mind, and soul in an ever-changing world. Sports is a social activity. Athletes bond and connect with their teammates and opponents through shared experiences, all the while creating priceless memories that last forever and cannot have a dollar amount put on them. Sports is a way for some to pay for and attend college, a way to become exposed to all that can be offered through athletics. Sports is a lifestyle, and those who don’t share this experience with us athletes, are the ones that don’t truly understand how we are being punished, stolen from, and hurt – physically AND mentally.
I know, for a fact, that other athletes in surrounding communities, towns, and sporting backgrounds, can stand with me and this statement: sports being taken from my life has caused drastic and negative impacts on my mental, emotional, and physical state. Read that again. This is NOT just me. Feelings of depression, helplessness, hopelessness, betrayal, violation are just some of the emotions that my fellow athletes and I are experiencing, and this isn’t reversible. These years in high school are some of the ones that define our lives, who we are as individual people in a sea of ordinary and conformity. What we are living through is going to affect our lives forever, and that is certain. This is a community of athletes that will never get these seasons back, that will never get to experience these sports again, that will never get to create life-long memories with unforgettable people. This affects our future, and we want our sports and seasons back. We want our lives back.
“Time is relevant, and time is precious.” This is our time. This time is our lives, and we, as athletes and sports-lovers, are taking the time we want, need, deserve. We know that we will never get the season we’ve imagined, and we know that we cannot get that precious time back that has already been lost. But, if there is one thing that we as competitors know and have learned from playing sports, it is to never give up. It is to give it our all until we hear the final whistle blow. It is to fully reach our potential in times of adversity and difficulty. It is to never go down without a fight, and to keep pushing through until we meet our goals and achieve our dreams. And that is exactly what we athletes are going to do. We are not going down without a fight, and we are not weakening at the knees now. Now is when we will rise up, together, stronger than ever, and prove our worth. We are resilient, we are capable, we are strong – we are athletes. Let. Us. Play.
Senior athlete at Eads High School