High school sports looks a lot different this year. The pandemic has changed the game, and some athletes said they worried about sports being canceled any day by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The new guidelines are to wear a mask or not play at all.
As the summer approached, athletes were hoping they would have a season but soon fall sports fall sports were pushed back until spring. Many athletes were disappointed especially the seniors because that was their time to prove themselves to colleges.
In early September, Whitmer signed an executive order stating fall sports can go on with certain requirements in place like wearing a face mask and 6-feet distance when possible.
According to Michigan.gov, “Athletes participating in an organized sport, while on the field of play, are not subject to the social distancing requirements of this order found in sections 2(a) and 6(a)(1), but instead must maintain six feet of distance from one another to the extent compatible with that organized sport, and wear a facial covering except when swimming.”
“Most things were different returning back to the season," said Rishad Hence, King senior and corner varsity football player. "We had to space out and wearing face masks made it harder for us to breathe. It don't faze me because we get to play. That's all we wanted is for us to have our season back so we can’t complain."
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 is spread by face-to-face contact with somebody who has the virus or touching a surface that has been touched by someone who has it. It can attack healthy cells and lungs.
Football is a sport that highly supports physical contact. Players chances of catching the virus are the concerns the coaches have. With Covid-19 at everyone’s doorstep, players and coaches have adjustments to make in order to play the game they love.
“Players can catch COVID-19 and not know they have it and then they can themselves affect other people around them,” said King assistant football coach Leon Crenshaw. “A player could catch COVID-19 from the opposing team.”
Due to the virus, practice hours are limited which could hurt teams because it may not give them enough time to get better and learn the plays. Players are used to practicing all the time, going harder every day. This could change athletes’ progress.
Before the season was approved, players and coaches were worried if they would ever get back on the field.
“I was going crazy thinking that there might not be any football this season,” said Crenshaw.
Sophomore and quarterback Dante Moore said, “COVID was making practices in the beginning difficult because we could only do certain drills for a limited time and we couldn’t be near each other all day.”
“I think we should have more practice time and conditioning,” said sophomore and cornerback Corey Webb.
“Playing with a mask is very difficult, having to run many routes, blocks, and move is very hard to do when you can barely breathe in 80-degree weather, with a mask squeezing your nose and mouth,” said Moore.
Cheerleaders also have found it challenging to cheer with face masks on.
“This year is different due to the coaching staff and how much pressure there is with a short season," said King senior and cheer captain Lajordan Sawyer. "Things are different with practice we have to get temperature checks before practice."