By: Zasha Hayes
COVID-19 had temporarily interrupted studies for student at ELAC, but the athletes who play Spring Season sports may not have the benefit of just being briefly interrupted.
Due to COVID-19, all fall sports have been rescheduled to start in January 2021, and spring sports will begin in February 2021. However, with no permission to enter the ELACs gym it seems that not only will Fall sports be rescheduled and possibly canceled, but so will spring sports.
Because of the pandemic no decision has been made official, to continue with the rescheduled seasons for sports.
This rescheduling is the current contingency plan provided by the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA).
Spring sports include basketball, soccer, track-and-field, softball, and more. For
ELAC, the unofficial athletic plan is to split spring season sports.
Instead of one whole spring season, there will be spring I and spring 2 sports. Spring I will start earlier than spring 2 sports.
Once the Athletic department at ELAC makes an official decision on whether sports will be continued, athletes will have the choice to continue playing their sport. If not they can opt-out because of the possible risks that could be detrimental to the athletes’ health.
On the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) website rules and regulations have been posted for the continuation of sports. It is stated that sports can continue with practice and competition when athletes and coaches understand that there is a possibility of getting COVID-19.
Fail-safes and precautions must be put in place to prevent this possibility.
The safety precautions include wearing a mask while both practicing and competing, staying six feet away from other athletes, having daily health check-ups, and more.
Again, even with all of these precautions, there is still a chance of getting COVID-19 which would result in not being able to play at all.
A vaccine for COVID-19 is supposed to be available in January.
Even so, it may not be ready by that time which is when athletic competition has been rescheduled.
With the certainty that the vaccine will be available at that time, they will be given to people who fall under the spectrum of high-risk people and locations
Those who have COVID-19 and places where cases are high.
Los Angeles is, unfortunately, one of the places that have quite a large population and as a result of that high numbers in COVID-19 cases. Athletes at ELAC are not on the list of people who will get the vaccine first.
For now, the only way the school district can prevent athletes from getting COVID-19and also compete in sports is to follow the rules set in place by the CDC and NCAA.
For the most part, CDC rules have allowed sports to be continued. but it is the school district that ultimately decides whether athletes can compete or not. Yet, high schools have already chosen to continue both academic and athletic programs on campus, and they are doing it safely.
If high school campuses can do this, colleges should be able to do the same.
Once the district has made an official announcement about the continuation of sports, the next step would be a school-by-school decision to opt-out of certain sports. Some schools have already decided not to host any sports, such as Rio Hondo College.
John Mosley, head coach of the men’s basketball team said. “It’s devastating for the students to trust the coaches who have recruited them, and that East LA College will open the door for them. The students may be committed to ELAC now, but if they cannot compete it’s a disservice to them as athletes and they will leave. With most of the coaches on campus, this seems to be the case.”
Many freshman athletes who have been recruited by ELAC coaches have not had the chance to practice with their teammates at a college level. More importantly, they have not met their coaches and teammates face-to-face. They have only met via Zoom.
While coaches do host Zoom meetings with their athletes, there is a chance that the only thing that can be done through Zoom is conditioning.
Most athletes don’t have the resources to practice by themselves while in quarantine.
Campuses who do decide to opt-out of sports might not have the resources to continue sports. ELAC’s campus has been a location for COVID-19 testing. This would assist in getting athletes back onto the court or onto the field. As a community college, this would be the push needed to help sports continue on the campus.
Mosley said. “ The opportunity to even try to be safe and the opportunity to compete has not been given to us. We need our doors to be open so the kids can have the opportunity to get a scholarship.”
If student-athletes are not given the chance to compete and get scouted by universities, they will most likely leave their campus to play at another. This would lower enrollment at ELAC even more so, as students have already left ELAC because of the pandemic.
To combat this, colleges may allow athletes another year of eligibility to compete in their sport, so that athletes can have a chance at being scouted by a four-year university.
Cerwin Haynes the director of ELAC athletic website said. “This is a situation of livelihood. It’s the livelihood of student-athletes who we have to be mindful of. The students are here because they’re trying to turn their athletic prowess into academic success. They’re trading their athletic abilities for a chance at a quality education.”
There has been no official decision from ELAC to opt-out of spring sports. If the district does not make a decision quickly there won’t be enough athletes who stay to compete.