Freshmen perspective on PSAL sports postponement

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Starting high school is difficult enough as it is, and even though teachers and the administration have been working hard to make this change easier during the pandemic, there’s one thing that freshmen haven’t had a chance to experience in any form. Zoom meetings can recreate lessons and club meetings; FaceTime calls can imitate lunchtime and social encounters; and Google Forms and TestWizard can replace physical testing. However, there is truly no virtual replacement for sports teams. 

The Public School Athletic League (PSAL) hosts sporting events for over 2,000 teams each year, with the fall season including badminton, cross country, volleyball, fencing, soccer, swimming, and tennis. When incoming ninth graders heard about the decision to postpone the fall season, many were disappointed in this additional abnormality of the school year. 

Freshman Jenna Diaz, who aimed to join girl’s volleyball, commented, “I feel like it took away a big part of my high school experience and that’s a chance lost to have social connections with other students and make some new friends.” Many other freshmen agreed with Jenna and argued that their sport provides an outlet for their busy day and improves their focus when completing school work. Freshman Tyler Budhu predicted that the cancellation of fall sports only foreshadows the cancellation of winter sports, including basketball, the sport he wanted to try out for. He stated, “School sports would have made it easier to focus on school. This is because sports is what I want to do when I grow up. I want to be a NBA player. So, every time I play sports I think about going professional. When I am stressed out, I would do sports.” 

This common feeling amongst many students claiming that sports are an outlet to relieve their stress is not a coincidence. The ADDA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) states, “Exercise and other physical activity produce endorphins—chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers—and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress.” In essence, since Coronavirus concerns prevent teams from meeting in person, it is more important than ever for students to practice individually and maintain discipline in times like these.

Freshman Max Golosovkwer attends practices with his club soccer team outside of the PSAL league, adhering to safety guidelines such as temperature checks. Similarly, Tyler remains active by practicing his basketball skills in local parks and his local yard. Freshman Jacqueline Lowenhaup also continues to work hard, practicing to perfect her volleyball technique. 

Despite their views regarding the decision to delay fall sports, many freshmen remain motivated to keep their skills sharp in hopes of sports resuming in the near future.