An Outlet For Students


As school started remotely, most fall athletes wondered if there was going to be a fall season in any sports. Athletes had a reduced practice schedule and preseason prior to the start of the school year.  Seniors especially wanted a final conclusion to their fall sports careers. There was a sense of relief when Governor Murphy announced that modified seasons would be allowed. 

With the amount of COVID-19 cases fluctuating, people’s emotions were high.  A study by the CDC showed that the number of people struggling with depression was at its peak during quarantine: “The coronavirus… pandemic has been associated with mental health challenges related to the morbidity and mortality caused by the disease and to the mitigation of activities, including the impact of physical distancing and stay-at-home orders.”

Sports were an outlet for a lot of athletes during these tough times. Seniors took a hard hit from COVID and fall sports were able to give them a sense of normalcy.

Senior tennis player Jacqui Devivo said fall sports “gave me time to hang out with friends and teammates for my last year of high school. It made me happier to be out and doing something with my friends after not seeing them because of coronavirus.” While Coronavirus stripped everyone of basic human contact, sports were able to give a part of this back to students. 

With fall sports resuming, protocols were put in place for everyone’s safety. Prior to every practice or game, every athlete was required to fill out a health questionnaire. The questionnaire prompted questions that asked if anyone had traveled to quarantine states or suffered from symptoms of COVID-19. Following athletes’ arrival, the coach was responsible for taking everyone’s temperatures, including themselves, and if the thermometer measured a temperature over 99.9 degrees, the athlete was sent home. Athletes were required to wear masks when they weren’t engaging in physical activity. 

There were lots of other changes:  For tennis, there were no player introductions which normally signified the start of a match. Football games would normally be packed with eager students ready to cheer on their hometeam. This year, if one were to look at the bleachers, it was a sad sight. Everyone was wearing masks and at least six feet away from each other,  following the new normal in the midst of a pandemic. Tickets to games were limited and seniors were only able to get them if they reserved them ahead of time, and even then they weren’t guaranteed a ticket. Most seniors did not take advantage of this opportunity though and at most of the home games, there were fewer than 20 seniors in the bleachers.

Football player Frank Riggio said “It was different due to the social distancing rules and the restrictions that were put in place. Not having a summer to get ready for the season really made it difficult to prepare for the upcoming games. It was also a different experience to not have as many fans since most of my family was not able to see me in person for my last season.”

Frank, a senior and one of the stars of the team, was not able to get more than two tickets to most games. His grandma, one of his biggest supporters, was not able to go out and cheer him on in his final high school football games. He says that, despite these changes, he and his team were happy to see playing time on the field at all. The fall season gave people something they hadn’t seen since the pandemic hit, social interaction and structure. As sad as the COVID-19 changes may seem, in the grand scheme of things, everyone was grateful for the little things they had taken for granted prior to the outbreak.