by Mae Mouritsen
The other COVID-19 shoe is dropping. After finding out that the University of Pennsylvania was going ‘hybrid’ for the fall, meaning limited on campus housing and mostly online classes, we got another announcement: There would be no fall sports for the Ivy League.
In a school culture where we are conditioned to achieve- to do well on exams, to get the job, to win the game- to not even have the option to compete is strange.
News of the decision flooded the media. The Ivy was the first of any major college sports conference to lean into full cancellation. Since then, many more leagues, including the Big 10, Pac-12, Patriot and Big West, have made similar announcements. For student athletes, it’s a devastating blow. These are young people who have, in addition to rigorous course loads, dedicated their minds, bodies and time to a game, only to find themselves sidelined for yet another semester. As Cornell linebacker Jake Stebbins told tribLIVE.com, “Not going to lie, I was a little upset, but I understand what they are doing. Safety comes first and I get that, but personally, I just wanted to play football.” Teammate and 2017 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Zane Dudek saw it coming. “I was bummed out, but I wasn’t surprised. I would say like a month ago, I really started to become more realistic and realize that it probably wasn’t going to happen.”
The grace with which student athletes have handled this announcement has been personally motivating....
Football gets the most attention, but the impact goes far beyond. Ellen, a rugby player at Princeton, tells me that only half of the student athletes will even have the option to return to campus in the fall due to housing restrictions, so a normal season would be impossible anyway. And, while she is bummed for sure, she feels like the decision was necessary, particularly given the risk of traveling for games. Some athletes have been told that their seasons could be moved to the spring. This seems to cause a mixture of both hope and anxiety. Parker, a Penn Volleyball player, describes it as a “waiting game,” but considers a spring season to be wishful thinking. Kayla, a soccer player at Brown, is taking it day by day. She says, “I’m being patient, doing my part, and hoping that things get better so that we can play in the spring.” Both athletes sorrowfully, yet wholeheartedly, agree with the league’s decision.
There seems to be a general understanding that, in the long run, you can’t win if the game’s not safe enough to play.
The grace with which student athletes have handled this announcement has been personally motivating amidst my nervous preparation for the fall semester. In a school culture where we are conditioned to achieve- to do well on exams, to get the job, to win the game- to not even have the option to compete is strange. But my peers, who have so much invested in their sport, are willing to be patient and support each other, when it would be so easy to just be angry. There seems to be a general understanding that, in the long run, you can’t win if the game’s not safe enough to play.