Return to Sports

Return to Sports

Wynton Jackson, Contributor, '21

On March 11, 2020, life for many Americans took a frightening turn. The abrupt suspension of the NBA season put the severity of COVID-19 on full display. Sure, other countries like Italy and China were ravaged by the virus, but in true American fashion, no one seemed to care until it appeared within our borders. Right before the Jazz-Thunder game, star center Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus. The game was postponed and soon after the entire season was suspended, and with good reason; nobody knew when Gobert contracted the virus, and there had been a number of people he could have come in contact with. Other players, like teammate Donovan Mitchell who also tested positive, coaches, team doctors, fans, team executives, and league staff all could have been exposed to the virus.

The NBA shutdown was the first domino in the nationwide quarantine. The virus had been circulating before, but many businesses ignored it to further deepen their pockets. However, as soon as a major sports league shut down, leaving millions, potentially billions, of dollars on the table, the rest of the country followed suit. The next day, March 12, Ohio governor Mike DeWine issued a statement saying that all schools would close by the end of the week, following with a three-week spring break. DeWine further closed down all “non-essential” businesses over the course of the week. For athletics, that meant a postponed AAU basketball season, no spring sports season, and a left a big question mark for the fall.

At Country Day we have started outside and participated in socially distanced workouts since the beginning of June. As of this week, contact sports will soon be allowed in accordance with the OHSAA’s phases of returning to play. I spoke to Athletic Director Dennis Coyle about what sports may look like in August going forward. He told me that everything depends on the rate of the virus’s spread and how Governor DeWine reacts as it relates to schools. “If we have to socially distance and wear masks in schools,” Coyle replied, “then it wouldn’t make much sense to have contact sports.” Athletes would be sweating and breathing heavily near each other, breaking the six-feet barrier, and increasing the risk of infection. Even winter sports wouldn’t be safe, as multiple people would be confined in an even smaller area, circulating the same potentially viral particles in the air. Although it’s still about a month away from the normal start of the fall season, cases in Ohio and around the country are starting to spike, which could have an adverse effect on a future return.

However, assuming conditions in Ohio get better and social distance or even at-home learning isn’t required, then it is possible we would have sports back, although likely in abbreviated seasons.  Coyle said that while they are still in question, non-contact sports like golf and tennis could remain as scheduled. He also told me that even if we can’t play against other teams, the school could possibly implement an intramural sports league so that students can still exercise and play their favorite sports. Although this new format won’t have rivalries like Summit, CHCA, or CCS, at this point, most students would be happy with any return to action.