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School Sports in the Time of COVID

We are living in such a strange and bizarre time right now and as we return to school trying to make things as safe and “normal” as possible for our students. Those of us who love sport are wondering, what will high school sports look like this season? To be honest I am not sure any of us know what will happen but for certain I think as educators and coaches we need to do everything we can to try and have school sports this year. For so many kids school sports are one of the most important things in their lives and for some of our students it is the main reason they come to school. So, if we understand this concept, we have to do everything we can to keep them engaged in sport. I understand how hard things are for teachers right now, I have been involved in public education for thirty years and this is by far the most difficult and challenging year we have ever faced. I know many long-time coaches as well as new ones are thinking that it is just too much to try and coach right now. However, I encourage you to try and keep your student-athletes engaged. Getting them together for a socially distanced practice that works on individual fundamentals is not perfect but I guarantee your kids will love it.

Photo: Gibi Saini

School sports has been struggling a little for the past while. Less teachers willing to coach, districts not exactly encouraging our outstanding community coach volunteers, our governing body being more concerned with governing models that remove our sport specific association volunteers. I am worried that if we don’t do everything we can to keep school sports running on some level that we could lose many programs and coaches and sadly lose our student-athletes who will likely have plenty of opportunities in the community. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am in no way trashing community sports, they are just as important as school sports. However, there is something about playing with all your friends and representing your high school that is special. Also, school sports are able to give opportunities to many kids whose families can’t afford to be involved in community sports.

I know it is tough, we have to make sure we all stay safe but I encourage all those involved in school sports to find a way to make it happen. There are amazing resources with Via Sport and all of the provincial Sport Organizations who have put together extensive return to sport plans that can be modified to the various COVID levels we are at. Educate yourself and put a plan together to keep our kids playing.

Paul Eberhardt

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