Sports Cancellations Leave Some Student Athletes Wondering about Their Futures

Jett S. pictured during a playoff game against Elmira District Secondary School last year. Photo contributed by Hailey M.

This year brought bad news to some graduating student athletes. COVID-19 has forced all the school boards to adapt to this pandemic. They have modified and changed numerous things throughout before the start of school, and Cancellation of sport was a significant loss for many students.

The Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations (OFSAA) and Central Western Ontario Secondary Schools Associations (CWOSSA) at the direction of the Ministry of Education and Public Health recently announced that student-to-student and student-to-teacher contact would need to be minimized in order to prevent community spread of COVID-19. Without a doubt, contact sports are too risky during this crucial time, it can put hundreds of people in danger and some could be put in the verge of life.

This left WRDSB with no choice but to cancel the 2020 – 2021 Waterloo County Secondary School Athletic Association (WCSSA) Fall and Winter sports season. This cancellation includes sports like football, soccer, field hockey, cross country and basketball.

Jett S. is a fifth year student at WCI. In non-pandemic years, he is a quarterback for the Vikings football team. This year was supposed to be an opportunity for him to show off as a veteran player and senior on this team. 

“At this point I don’t even know if I’ll have the chance to play sports in post-secondary,” said Jett when asked about his future.

He is trying to maintain himself physically while not being able to play sports. “At this point of the pandemic, all the gyms are opened up so I am able to go back and get the grind in.”

Before gyms opened, and after the full lockdown started in March, Jett said he was trying to work out as much as he could at home. “I was just at home doing my own types of training, in the backyard, swimming as much as I could, and I just had to stay positive, knowing that sports are going to come back one day, and I’ll be able to get on the field again.”  

His motivation for keeping in shape lies in his optimism for the future: “I just [have to] stay focused on where I want to be,” he said, “and keep the grind going and train as much as I can right now so when the time comes I get that opportunity, I’m ready for it.”

Participating in sports can cause spreading of the virus since athletes are going head to head and breathing very close to each other at all times. In addition, some sports are contact-sports, which makes it harder to keep physical distance.

With these season cancellations, graduating students lose an opportunity to get scholarships, get noticed by scouts and be able to perform in their last year of high school. This also gives them a difficult time, since they are not able to play sports during this pandemic and have to adapt to this new lifestyle called “no sports.”

Despite all the bad news, there seems a bright side to the cancellation of sports. Such as taking advantage of this situation and spending more time focusing on school and grades. This will lead to an opportunity for student athletes to 

Jeremiah F, a grade 12 student athlete at St. David’s Catholic Secondary School, also had a rising opportunity this year to play on the senior team and perform in front of many people including university scouts. According to his parents, they have received recruit letters from university coaches who were interested in Jeremiah’s athletic ability on the field.

Jeremiah F. pictured at a game at Jacob Hespeler Secondary School last year. Photo contributed by Maddy Ferguson.

However, this year, due to sports cancellations, Jeremiah F. has struggled to decide on his future. Not being able to play sports brought him different perspectives and made him rethink where he wants to go after high school.

When he was asked about how he feels about this year’s sport cancellation, he said, “Sports has forced me to think twice about what I want to do. COVID-19 has made applying […] to universities a struggle. COVID has really tested me on how much I do really love football and [want to] continue with it.”

His response to having no sports has been to focus on education. Jeremiah said, “Usually I would be trying to balance school and football but now I can strictly work on my grades and provide the best work that I possibly could.” 

Like he said, it is essential for student athletes to receive good marks and focus on their academics.

Although, this year’s cancellation was a tragedy for majority of the graduating athletes, it seems like staying positive and keeping up physically and academically is the best choice some athletes have.