The Return of Youth Sports

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Cover Image
By Afra Mahmud

Unlike many other sports, summer baseball was able to happen this year. However, due to the threat of the virus, my parents decided to pull me out of my summer team. They were fearful of the long commutes early in the morning and late at night. In addition, due to the virus, they would not allow me to stay in hotels near tournaments. However, with the fall around the corner, I am finally starting to play again. The COVID-19 protocols during the summer were vague: there was no weekly testing or enforced mask-wearing. Going into the fall, I am happy to be on the field. Our coaches are trying to limit the amount of players at each practice. However, unlike other sports, playing baseball does not include direct contact with other players. But, like many activities in our new normal, it is difficult juggling the pandemic and having fun.

— Ethan Kirschner, junior

Though PSAL cancelled fall sports, my club team has begun practices and released a tentative date for the start of our season. My club announced its return near the beginning of August, and we began practicing twice a week at Pier 40. Pier 40 has had strict rules for sports teams’ returns, so our club has made a firm commitment to abide by many rules, including no contact drills and no sharing water/equipment. In addition, only 20 players are allowed on one field at once, and each player must check their temperature before entering the field. At first, I was definitely excited to get back on the field with my teammates, but there is an ounce of fear that runs through my brain when I take off my mask to do conditioning, or a player stands too close to me. While my season is expected to start at the end of September, I wouldn’t be surprised if this date got pushed further back. In fact, I would advocate that most youth sports’ seasons get delayed, as it is not a priority at the moment, and the cross contamination of players and spectators would be rapid and uncontrollable.

— Shivali Korgaonkar, junior

Due to the uncertainty that arose from the pandemic, I elected to take a break from travel baseball this summer in spite of the fact that tournaments still continued to occur. In previous summers, my family and I spent too many hours on endless freeways and in small cramped hotels, so we decided that this was the year to take a breather. I have been able to work out and practice on my own throughout the summer, and as fall approaches, I look forward to playing on a field with teammates once again. Baseball is able to social distance more frequently than most sports, and hopefully, that will lead to a successful formula in which we will be able to stay safe and play the sport that we love.

— Jeremy Lee, junior

My club soccer league shut down in the spring, but we continued to meet over Zoom for workouts and film. Now, we are going to have in-person training (socially distanced) at Pier 40 and are continuing virtual workouts and fitness challenges every week. The league is possibly starting this fall, but it will definitely be difficult with travel to different parts of the state… fingers crossed.

— Krish Gupta, junior

After going through a pandemic and at times lockdowns, curfews, and other precautions, I found it hard to believe that my travel lacrosse season would take place. To my surprise, we had an abridged summer season with far less tournaments, but I think everyone was happy to just get on the field. It felt normal during the 40-minute tournament games to just get on the field and do what I love. I usually look for my biggest fan, my mom, on the sidelines, but she had to stay in the car, since parents weren’t allowed out of their cars. Despite the obvious changes, including no team handshakes after the game, coaches wearing masks, and no college coaches allowed to come to games, I was just happy to return to the sport I love playing.

— Philip Von Mueffling, junior

My travel baseball team was able to start up this summer with the necessary precautions in place, and everything went very smoothly. We had to wear masks in the dugout and sanitize our hands often, and following these rules we were able to play ball. Not one of my tournaments, nor any tournaments I heard of had any COVID breakouts, so most other teams followed these precautions as well. The only difference in the games was that the umpire calling balls and strikes stood behind the pitcher's mound instead of home plate, which led to some (OK, a lot of) bad calls. That took some getting used to, but it was nice to get back out on the field, especially since our PSAL season was canceled in the spring.

— Sam Levine, junior