IHSAA, HSE Schools must cancel fall sports


Photo by the Fishers N The Red Staff.

With an upcoming presidential election, the discussion of polarized politics becomes even more prevalent.

Nate Albin, Online Editor

Nate Albin is a junior and the online editor for Fishers N the Red. His views do not necessarily reflect those of the newspaper. 

Let me start this article off as bluntly as I possibly can.
Returning to high school sports is an absolutely careless decision by the IHSAA and districts like HSE Schools. I am an athlete and I want to play, but ignorance to the pandemic will cost people their lives.
My beliefs on this topic have gotten mixed responses. I have had some tell me that they agree with me. They believe that it is not safe enough as well. I have also received comments telling me that I am uneducated and am disrespectful for having the “audacity” to challenge the IHSAA.
I get it. High school sports can be an escape. They are an opportunity for some to get a college education. Athletics, amateur and professional, are a great part of our society. Right now, by having in-person sports before in-person school (like HSE Schools has done), sports and athletes are being put before school and students. There is a time and a place for them, and the middle of a pandemic in which athletes could easily spread the coronavirus does not seem like the time or the place.
First off, look at the place. Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that the midwest, Indiana included, has the potential to become the next epicenter of the pandemic in the United States. Statewide, cases are rising to new heights. In Hamilton County, 16.1% of cases are the 10-19 year-old age group according to the Indiana State Department of Health. Our age group is not the main threat to die from the virus, but because of how easily the coronavirus spreads, athletes could easily pass it to loved ones that are more vulnerable. If even one person dies because of an outbreak at an IHSAA sporting event, how could you even begin to justify that?
Another situation that shows that this region is not safe for sports is that of the Big Ten. Arguably the most important conference in collegiate sports, the Big Ten suspended all fall sports. Two teams from the state (Purdue and Indiana) are in the conference, and a report from the Chicago Sun-Times says that both schools voted to suspend the season. WTHR reports that Purdue may lose more than $50 million from not having fall sports. They are willing to lose that much for public safety, but the IHSAA (which made about $11 million all of 2018-19) is not willing to do the same.
The only other option for sports leagues when travel is not feasible is a “bubble”. These bubbles put all the teams in one area and keep them quarantined together. Leagues like the NWSL, NBA and NHL have made bubbles and have had no cases; leagues like MLB have struggled without one. Obviously, a bubble cannot happen for high school sports. Remember, these are all student-athletes who are supposed to be students first and foremost.
Next, there are all the problems with the timing of restarting sports. As mentioned earlier, Indiana and the rest of the Midwest could become the new big hotspot. Fall sports also stretch into November, which some the CDC has warned will be the worst season on record in terms of coronavirus deaths. This will all occur after many states have claimed that they have reopened safely.
Reopening has led to many problems all over the state and country, and a lot of the issues have been caused by the high school age group. The Miami Herald reported that teens spread the coronavirus as easily as adults. A New Jersey health department had to warn parents about teens spreading the disease after a party caused a local outbreak among teens. And if you doubt that teenagers in Indiana are getting together unsafely, one look at Instagram or Snapchat will change your mind.
That is one example of how the virus can be brought to practice. Kids also have jobs. They go out grocery shopping. Even if you are following the rules, the coronavirus can still infect you. If one person brings it to a practice, everybody on the team is at risk.
Based on my experience at cross country practices, the virus would spread rapidly. Everybody starts at a cone or a parking spot to keep people separated. Once we started running, however, social distancing was out the window. I still go to practice to support my team and honor my commitment I have made to them these past two years, but I would be lying if I said that there are not many points in which I am uncomfortable.
To be clear, my practice was following all of the “safety” regulations the district had enacted. When I say I want to go back to sports, I mean it. For many people, myself included, high school sports are a great way to come off of a school day and have healthy competition. For me, I am a junior and I have missed most or all of each of my seasons, three due to injuries and one because of the pandemic. It is safe to say that I want a season. But I also know that a starting line of runners as long as a football field is just asking for an outbreak. That is really a problem when running is considered one of the “safer” sports.
High school sports are being selfish. Reopening schools is looking to be a monumental task by itself. Trying to figure out how to also do sports sounds nearly impossible. Right now, it feels like HSE Schools and others around the state are putting more emphasis on returning to sports than school. This cannot be justified in any way. Cancel fall sports before even one outbreak occurs.
It is simple. We cannot safely have school, so we cannot safely have sports. Education must come first and it is not right now. Make returning to school and having healthy students and teachers the priority, not sports. There is a reason we are called “student-athletes” and not “athlete-students”.