"Youth sports might feel like a distant memory, since life in quarantine has made it hard to do those things."--Polly van de water, 6th grade
In the beginning of the pandemic, people rarely left their house, following state orders, and being as careful as possible. As we started to learn more about what is really causing Covid to spread, things started opening up again causing more spikes. When we finally got cases somewhat under control sports started returning. My soccer team returned in the summer but was still being very careful, staying in social distanced boxes and wearing masks for water breaks. But with Covid still having unpredictable spikes, people were unsure what to do.
Ray Head, the Technical Director for the Montclair Soccer Club, said that teams are starting to return back to contact practice, but still with safety measures such as wearing masks the whole time and social distancing during water breaks. Montclair soccer also started to do scrimmages against other Montclair teams, with masks. They’re also thinking of starting games against other clubs at the end of March.
Head mentioned how important youth sports are for kids fitness and wellbeing, as well as social and teamwork skills.
The new rules for sports issued by The California Department of Public Health state that outdoor sports and activities that have been too risky in the past, will be allowed if your county has less that 14 cases per 100,000 people. Something that is helpful is to compare the risks of different sports as you can learn about more here.
To get more information on how other kids were dealing with the lack of youth sports, I interviewed various kids who have participated in youth sports during the pandemic. The majority of the kids I interviewed are on my soccer team and most of them agreed that soccer was not as fun when you can't play aggressively. I definitely agree with that because during practice a month ago we could not pressure anyone so if they were coming at us we would basically have to run away from them, kind of defeating the entire point of the game.
Cassidy Berg says, “When you aren’t able to tackle and take on people, it takes away the aggressive and engaging part of the game. Taking this away can demotivate players and cause them to lose interest in soccer.” She also mentioned that she has been getting extra practice and generally more exercise by walking 3-4 miles twice a week, private lessons with 24-7 Soccer Club, online lessons and back yard drills.
Some teams have not gone back at all, or shut down again in December and haven’t gone back since. Mateo DeVries, who plays multiple sports, says that the lack of organized practice has been challenging. “It is hard to improve while not interacting with the team and your coach.”
Sadie Lahey-Teare, a sophomore who wants to play soccer in college says, “The biggest challenge has probably been not being able to play others and see what level I’m at or if I’m improving at all.” She also mentioned that she has been practicing more since she has less going on overall but that she really misses the competition.
Parents see a negative effect on kids as well. Sadie’s mom, Catherine Teare, said that she feels the practices are so controlled now that the kids don’t have room to expand and just play, which takes out a lot of the fun part of sports.
My soccer team has been together a long time and we are known for being a little quiet compared to many other teams. With masks and distancing requirements, that makes it even harder to connect. We have a new person who joined our team in quarantine and I imagine it was really hard for her, barely even knowing anyone.
This has been a tough year for all of us, and some of our escapes from stress are now also taken away from us. For some people, sports have been a way to stay connected with friends and get exercise, but it hasn’t been the same without competition and with social distancing requirements and masks.