West High Sports During the Pandemic

Madeleine Jameson

Although in-person school this fall has been canceled due to the coronavirus, sports for this fall season are still on. The Salt Lake City School District has set regulations that all high school sports teams are required to follow, and these regulations differ depending on how many cases there are. Currently, Salt Lake City is in yellow, meaning that sports are still allowed to happen, but social distancing measures must be put in place. These measures include staying 6 feet apart, limiting groups to under 50 people, and wearing masks while not actively participating. All students choosing to participate on a sports team in the SLC school district must sign a form saying that to their knowledge they do not have COVIDovid-19 and that they understand it is possible they may catch the virus from participating, even with the precautions put in place. Once Salt Lake City goes to green, then normal activities can take place. If there are more cases and the city goes into orange, sports will still be allowed to continue but with groups of 20 or less and a 10 feet distancing rule. According to current district guidelines, sports will only be canceled if we go into the red phase according to the current guidelines the district has sent out, which are subject to change.

All regular fall sports this year are taking place, including high-contact and indoor sports. Rachel Townsend, the West High Athletics Director, says, “Our custodial staff and coaching staff teams disinfect all equipment used during practices and games.” Coaches are given a list of guidelines to follow, but it’s up to them to use good judgment and make decisions based on the circumstances: “Our coaching staff has continuously reiterated wearing masks, washing hands, and staying 6 feet apart.”

But it’s not just players and coaches who have to adapt during these tough times and follow guidelines to keep everyone safe. The audience is a big part of any sport, and these onlookers also must also follow certain guidelines. The audience for any sporting event is required to wear masks and social distance from others. According to Townsend, “There is also only 25 percent capacity in each facility at this time to limit fans at events.” Not only are the audience sizes smaller this year, but the team sizes are as well. Even though sports are continuing so far this fall not everyone who would normally participate is doing so this year. “We have teams who have had students choose to not play due to Covid-19 and support the decisions each family has to make at this time.”

At this point, winter sports are set to continue with these added precautions. In fact, there has already been a date set for basketball and wrestling tryouts. This could all change though — depending on the number of cases in Salt Lake City. Because the weather is getting colder, it is likely that cases will rise in the coming months. And since most winter sports take place indoors and studies have shown that the coronavirus spreads easier in enclosed spaces, what winter sports will look like this year is still uncertain.

Over the past few months, sports have been an important source of community and strength for many West High athletes. Despite the chaos of 2020, West’s teachers, coaches, and athletes will continue to do their best to make sure the fall and winter sports seasons are as safe and enjoyable as possible.