On Sports: Playing During a Pandemic

by Emily Siansky ‘22

Two weeks ago, I would have never imagined playing in a softball tournament, and being alongside some of my best friends. My teammates and I received an email from our coach saying that we were still on for the season, but the number of tournaments and practices would be limited. I thought that this basically meant our season was gone. However, we were already registered to play a tournament in York, Pennsylvania, and it was still on. At first, my family and I were weirded out by the idea of a tournament. Softball is a contact sport, and some positions, including the catcher (which is my primary position), are inevitably going to be less than six feet apart from the other team. We understood that there would be precautions in place, but how would it actually work?

Before the tournament, we had to sign a waiver confirming that if we got COVID-19 we could not sue the United States Speciality Sports Association (USSSA). We were also sent a long list of changes that the tournament would follow. The ones that were strictly followed included no hand shaking at the end of the game, and no team meetings during innings where the whole team would meet at the pitchers mound. Umpires tried to stay further back from players than they normally would. It was also suggested to be socially distant at all times when possible, but it was not enforced by any officials or umpires. 

Besides a few changes here and there, the tournament had the same vibe as the dozens I’ve played in before the pandemic. 

Because I was out of state, I observed how different places are dealing with reopening in comparison to Maryland. The tournament had many rules, but only a few were followed. This may be the same as states begin to reopen; there may be standards, but many people will ignore or turn a blind eye to them. 

Even within my own team, I was able to see the different types of comfortability people have from transitioning out of quarantine. Some were ready to play, while others were a bit anxious about being back. As with in Maryland, and in Montgomery County in particular, there will be hesitancy to go out by some after a long period in lockdown, but also excitement from others to get back to “normal.” There will be precautions in place, but it is unknown how many people will actually follow them, especially if they are not being enforced. 

Some states that have been open have started to see spikes in the number of cases. This can only be correlated with the disregard or lack  of precautions. Just because places are opening, does not mean that it is a free frawl to resume “normal” life.

Though I wish all life could resume, especially softball, it is more important that everyone stays safe, and that we stay conscious of the situation that we are actually in rather than the one we wish for.