Covid vs Western Branch, 2-0

How COVID has affected sports

The girls are at field hockey practice, practicing for their game!


The girls are at field hockey practice, practicing for their game!

Memphis Griffin, Journalist

Many sports have been deeply affected by COVID-19 in the past year. Some sports stopped playing through the main outbreak of COVID. Others have continued their season with a few changes. Students are now required to get weekly COVID tests, or be vaccinated to play in their sport season.

According to the Virginia Department of Health, “If tolerable, wear a mask while playing indoor sports, especially any sport that involves close contact. At K-12 schools, masks are not required when exercising, but should still be worn if possible when engaging in active sports play.”

The Virginia Department of Health also said that you should wear a mask in the locker room or in the stands while not playing.

“Playing outdoor sports is generally safer than indoors. Unvaccinated athletes, coaches, officials, and spectators should strongly consider wearing masks, especially if close contact is likely to occur. Fully vaccinated people might also consider wearing a mask in crowded outdoor spaces if they or someone in their household is immunocompromised,” the VDH stated.

Athletes from Western Branch High School, stated how COVID has affected their sport differently. 

“A lot of sports teams have been shutting down and quarantined resulting in us not having as many games as we normally would,” Caroline Rhem, a senior on the field hockey team, said.

There has also been some feedback about how the change is from pre-covid to now. 

“I think that with COVID now, all of the changes have been necessary and it’s good that we’ve made these changes because it’s definitely helped. But at the same time it’s kind of like a big part of sports is having that sense of community and having the backbone of your team being close and bonding, COVID has just really affected us coming together more and feeling united as a school,” Rhem said.

COVID has also had an effect on how the planning and scheduling of sports has been.

“Planning wise it’s affected how you set up practice; Coaches are having to keep students separated and having to keep them in pods, and if one pod or student gets affected, it doesn’t affect the whole team, just that pod,” Mark Didawick, Athletic Director, said.

People might be wondering what happens if the team is quarantined, will the game get rescheduled?

“Yes and No, it depends; If it is a football game it is hard to reschedule a football game because you can only play so many games with football because of your body getting beat up. Field hockey, cross country, and sports like that are easier because you can play more games. Most of the time they play two or three games in a week,” Didawick said.

According to an article in  The Virginian-Pilot, athletes will have to get weekly COVID tests or be fully vaccinated, starting in November.

Virginia Beach and Chesapeake will require it starting Nov. 8, the school districts said. Neighboring Suffolk already is requiring it. Virginia Beach officials said Tuesday they decided to require vaccination or weekly testing after reviewing data from the first few weeks of school. In Virginia Beach, the requirement covers athletes in sports that require a physical examination. Chesapeake extended the requirement to middle-school athletes as well,” The Virginian-Pilot stated.

Some athletes say that there was less time in their sports season. They say that the season wasn’t as exciting since it was cut short.

“There was a lot less time, we had three months off and only four meets,” Aislinn Bissey-Lynch, a junior at Western Branch High School on the swim team, said. 

COVID hasn’t affected everything yet, the sports teams in the Hampton Roads area are still playing everyone that they usually play.

“We’ve been playing all of the schools, and some schools on the peninsula that we didn’t play last year in March,” Riley Greenwood, The Junior Varsity Field Hockey coach at Western Branch, said.

Schools have been taking safety precautions seriously to keep everyone safe, while still having fun.

“When we get to practice we all have to set up our bags and field hockey sticks six feet apart. We also fill out our COVID forms and sanitize before every practice. When we have an active play we keep that six feet of distance, and we don’t have to wear masks unless we are in a team meeting or close to each other,” Rhem said.

Athletes have adapted to all of the changes, and are using the safety precautions very well. Athletes are excited to be back in their sport, while using safety precautions.

“I would just say overall, even though COVID has really messed up the routine of things especially within our sports, I would have to give props to my field hockey team because they have really adapted to these changes,” Rhem said.