Dear Dr. Arlotto and the AACPS board,
I write to you today to talk about the winter athletes who have been suffering this year. We are anything but happy with the virtual “season” that we have received this year.
Winter athletes have been robbed of their season and have seen it be handed to our classmates and friends who play fall sports. Although we are happy for our fall athlete friends, we question if we are as valuable to the school board? I can’t understand how one sports season would be valued higher than another. How come the seniors of winter sports, like myself, have to sit back and watch their classmates play in a competitive season for a fall sport during the timeframe of a winter season.
One argument introduced against winter sports was that winter sports are typically played inside. We can have a safe and COVID-free season if we put in place contact tracing, mandatory mask wearing, and other guidelines to keep us safe but still playing our sport. We have seen that this is possible through other states and colleges that have had competitive seasons.
Additionally, it is hard to understand how winter sports that have typically smaller teams have been told “no” due to COVID-19. I would like to understand how a football team, which is more than triple the size of a 12-person basketball team, is more COVID safe. Also, fall athletes are having to play in winter weather. Conditions like sleet, snow and freezing wind are dangerous and cancellations of these practices could have been avoided with a winter season instead of a fall season.
Fall athletes have already received in-person time this year and to grant them a competitive season without considering the winter athletes, especially the senior athletes, who have worked years for a potentially lifechanging season is heartbreaking. Juniors and seniors of winter sports were counting on this time for college scholarships and offers. With no in-person time, it is impossible to compete with athletes from different counties who have had this opportunity. Additionally, freshmen and sophomores have been robbed of the opportunity to develop over the year to potentially be able to complete for a scholarship on a college team.
Not only can sports be lifechanging as they can lead to a scholarship for college, but they can also change an athlete’s perspective on life. Without my high school basketball teammates and coaches, I’m not sure where my mental state would be. My team has a bond unlike any other. With the loss of our season, my mental health has deteriorated. My drive and determination in my sports has carried into my academics and overall life. Without a competitive season, or any in-person time, it is impossible to mimic the spunk and energy I used to thrive with. I struggle to find the will to do schoolwork, go to work and be a participating member in my friend group.
My basketball team means the world to me. My coaches, fellow seniors and underclassmen are my family. They have kept me strong and fighting toward a season that we know we deserve. I know my words are powerful, but they cannot capture my true pain and sadness and those of other winter athletes who are experiencing the same thing as me countywide.
I feel that it is possible to give winter athletes a season. We have been completely overlooked and shut out of the picture in conversations of returning to play. I ask that you reconsider options for a competitive winter season.
Severna Park High School Athlete