Return of sports may bring up serious health concerns

Picture yourself in the stands of a packed Utah Jazz arena, cheering on your favorite team as they enter through the player tunnel. You see each player hyping each other up, giving each other high fives. Suddenly, you hear an announcement from the arena, explaining that the game has been postponed as a result of a player illness. A few hours later, you find out all NBA games have been canceled as a result of a reported player case of COVID-19.

By December 2020, California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) will tentatively have all sports return to a condensed two-season playing schedule, despite the lack of a fully developed COVID-19 vaccine. The potential of an incident similar to the aforementioned anecdotal sports situation is quite high, as a majority of school sports are high contact and include a commonly contacted object (such as a football or volleyball).

As of Tuesday, Sept. 1, CIF Southern Section, which includes Walnut, has not posted any new comprehensive health guides regarding sports in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Considering that the start of the new fall season occurs in a little over three months, it is especially alarming that CIF has not shown any recent development in creating health guidelines to accommodate for COVID-19.

The lack of health-based information from CIF has left us to ponder potential possibilities: Will the rules of each sport be partially altered to accommodate for players at-risk? Will we simply follow suit with sports in other states and have no change?

The latter is certainly out of the picture, with California nearing 800,000 reported COVID-19 cases, which leads the nation. This leads us to the burning question: how will CIF execute the return of sports while adhering to COVID-19 state guidelines, without endangering the lives of students and jeopardizing an early school return?

The answer is quite simple: CIF cannot reasonably bring back sports without miraculously materializing a COVID-19 vaccine. Albeit the surprisingly smooth return of the National Basketball Association, it is not plausible to have the return of high school sports, as we lack the COVID-19 tests and sufficient funds to ensure secure, virus-free facilities on a daily basis.

By Jacob Khuu, Sports editor
Photo courtesy of Tristan Gonzalez