Amid a fall COVID-19 surge, let’s call a time-out on sports | Ana White

November 24, 2020 6:30 am

The pandemic has brought about several discussions of what is deemed appropriate or not to continue when it comes to public activities.

Ana White (Capital-Star file)

While some believe that sports can and should be played with precautionary procedures in place, many still argue that sports cannot be played during a season of such vulnerability. Further, the argument about sports and a parent or community insisting on its continuation, lends itself to the further argument of how much we value human life, our privilege, and perhaps our audacity to continue sports during a pandemic.

Sports for many communities are spaces for community engagement. Whether or not individuals or groups congregate in any other spaces, the reality is that sports bring together individuals in otherwise silo and segregated communities.

Sports also are a space for individuals to showcase their talents on the field and other spaces. Children train dedicate their time and devote themselves to being student athletes. For many, sports define their achievements and contributions to their schools in ways that academics cannot.

It provides an outlet for social activity across the city. For this reason, and especially during the pandemic, many want to remain connected to the thing that connected us as a community.

But with COVID-19 tests presenting increased ailments and infections across the Keystone State, many argue that continuing sports is a huge disservice to the pandemic precautions, and possibly sends the wrong messaging to children about the severity of the pandemic itself.

Other countries seemingly look at us and question the ways in which our precautions and flexibilities or lax attitudes towards the precautions indicate an irresponsibility that showcases our First World Problem mentality. Americans have long been seen as arrogant, self serving, and untouchable.

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The ways in which we have defied state regulations, seemingly oblivious or at times flat out defiant towards the Centers for Disease Control recommendations, have shown us to be more interested in keeping our normalcy during pandemics rather than focusing on adjusting our own convenience towards a new normal, free from those interactions we were seemingly beginning to live without.

But how do sports play a role in the pandemic’s spread or decrease, and how does the narrative of sports continuing serve our goal to addressing ways in which we as adults are providing our own narratives on how real COVID-19 is for us?

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For many of us, sports represents community, and in a space where community and inclusion seem to be getting further away from us, whether through the pandemic or current events, we yearn for spaces of normalcy.

Sports allow us to regain control over our social lives in spaces where the pandemic has taken that from us through rigid enforcements and restrictions.

All any of us truly want is an opportunity to feel the normalcy not only for ourselves, but for our children. The children during this pandemic are suffering from social interactions and our desire to allow student athletes to not only get back to social interactions, but to also continue their educational endeavors through sports based scholarships and scouting drives many to push for sports continuation in schools.

However, what we may push for in determination to keep normalcy could cost us more than we are anticipating losing.

In this space of new normal, is it more important to push towards returning towards normalcy, or accept that we need to engage in ways to head towards the new way of life?

Sports serve as both that lesson and test. Sports allows us to return to what we know, but also can cause us to be seen as irresponsible, self serving in wanting to achieve our own gratification, and push towards kids continuing their routine rather than teaching lessons in trauma and resilience, outside of getting the things that they want.

Sports for many has always been a sanctuary, a getaway, a release, and a way of life. Removing that at a time where social interactions seems immensely necessary is too much for many to bear.

But perhaps the greater lesson is in teaching our kids that when things are dangerous, we should avoid ways to willingly enter into them. Perhaps this is the time to teach that although sports are seemingly important and necessary, they can wait.

With an uncertain future in this pandemic’s life span, and with more cases being incurred during sporting events, the pandemic reminds us even in times where we wish to return to normal that we should keep in mind that most things we seemingly need can cost us.

As adults, the lessons we are teaching ourselves in both what we think we need or want are lessons that are being passed down to our children.

Sports is an area where both adults and children can both learn to take a time-out in our schedules until we can return to it in a way that feels safe and reasonable for us all. Sports seems to serve as the ultimate ‘do as I say, not as I do’ for many of us, a reflection that serves poorly during a time of worldwide spread of disease and concern.

Right now, we are struggling to keep things normal, to hold onto anything that keeps us feeling normal. However, sports serve as a greater lesson in how we accommodate entertainment and our own needs to be kept occupied, that not even a pandemic slows us down.

In times when our children are looking to us as providers or virtual learning (and real world providers of lessons), how we handle our own needs plays a role in how kids are to perceive the cautionary level of this dangerous pandemic.

Opinion contributor Ana White, of Harrisburg, is the owner of Way With Words Consulting Services, LLC., which specializes in diversity and inclusion professional development training. She also works in mental health services in the Harrisburg area. Her work appears weekly on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page. 

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