Covid-19 had drastic effects on fall 2020 high school sports. Illinois was among the few states, including California and New York, that cancelled high-contact fall sports in 2020 and postponed them to 2021. Florida and Texas, for example, were successful in holding fall sports with COVID precautions. Some of the precautions taken were mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, and allowing fewer or no people in the crowd. Texas allowed sports such as tennis, cross country, volleyball and football to take place. According to the Texas Public Health and Human Services, COVID cases amongst high school students did not significantly increase from Sept. 15 to Nov. 8, during which sports took place. Although allowing sports can be risky, the benefits outweigh the small chance of spreading the virus if protocols are in place and precautions strictly enforced.
Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, along with the State Department of Health, postponed many fall sports to spring 2021. High-school sports are important for the athletes, the entire student body, and even the community. Governor Pritzker’s decision made it difficult for students to show their school pride and to build an emotional connection to their teammates and school. In addition, many athletes did not have the opportunity to compete for college athletics scholarships, seniors could not participate in their final season and freshmen and transfer students had fewer chances to meet others outside of the classroom. Unlike students at Saint Viator, many high schoolers in Illinois did not have the opportunity of going to school in-person every day. These students would have benefited from having peer interaction through athletics. Participating in sports help students develop leadership skills, character, and collaboration skills.
These decisions made by Governor Pritzker and the State Health Department have caused many protests and even led some to file lawsuits demanding that high schoolers have the opportunity to play sports. The governor’s decision caused a lot of unrest that could have been avoided by allowing high schools to conduct fall sports, even if they were limited.