The 2020-21 school year promises to be one unlike any other today’s students, and even their parents and grandparents, have ever known. In March 2020, many schools were forced to abruptly cancel in-person instruction as government officials tried to prevent the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus. As the 2019-20 school year wound down and summer approached, school officials remained uncertain if they would reopen for in-person instruction in the fall, leaving student-athletes to wonder what would happen to fall sports seasons.
The cancellation of in-person school sessions and extracurricular activities was hard on every student, and athletes have proven no exception. Many graduating seniors did not get a chance to compete alongside their teammates during spring sports season, bringing their scholastic athletic careers to an abrupt end. With the upcoming 2020-21 scholastic sports season in similar limbo, student-athletes in the class of 2021 might be worried that their own chances to compete are in jeopardy as well. In light of that, local communities can take steps to support scholastic athletes during an uncertain time.
· Make a show of your support. Stay-at-home measures prevented many schools from hosting traditional graduation ceremonies for graduating seniors. However, many communities found ways to honor their grads, and they can do the same for scholastic athletes who are unsure about what the future holds. Purchase signs and/or T-shirts from school-based support organizations, erecting the signs in your yard so local athletes know they’re still supported, even if they can’t play.
· Create highlight videos. Smartphones have made it possible to record nearly every one of life’s special moments and milestones, so chances are coaches, parents and neighbors have footage of local athletes competing in their sports. Parents, coaches and other fans can work together to create highlight videos for local scholastic sports teams, sharing the finished products via social media. These videos can make for great and lasting memories for student-athletes and even lift their spirits at a time when everyone can use a boost.
· Host pep rallies. If social distancing measures have been relaxed in your community and large or midsized gatherings are now allowed, organize a pep rally to honor and show support for local athletes. Work with school officials to ensure everyone celebrates safely. Such events are integral to student-athletes’ experience during typical sports seasons, so they can be a great way for communities to offer some semblance of normalcy to athletes who have worked hard to make the team.
Student-athletes face uncertainty in regard to the 2020-21 scholastic sports season. But there are many ways for local communities to support their student-athletes, even if the games are postponed or canceled.