So spring competition was approved by the NESCAC Presidents…now what?
Spring championships were canceled last spring, fall, and winter. It’s been a year since the declaration of the pandemic, but there is a vaccine now. Apparently, normalcy is just around the corner but it still does not feel like that. Yet spring competition has been approved. This shocking approval comes on the heels of a mini outbreak on Colby’s campus that can somewhat be traced back to a team, making the spring competition somewhat controversial.
I am part of the women’s crew team which did not get to compete last spring or this fall. However, even within my team, the approval is controversial. One of the biggest problems athletes, including myself, see is that teams are allowed to cross state lines for competition, but this same privilege is not extended to our peers who are not on teams. This alone perpetuates the divide between athletes and nonathletes. While our travel over state lines is hyper-restricted, it still creates a double standard. Some of the restrictions in place include not being allowed to stay overnight out of state, stop anywhere along the way (even at rest stops), being masked the entire time (even throughout the competition), and Colby needs to approve the testing regime of the teams we are competing against. On top of these precautions, everyone (including coaches) will get rapid antigen tests the morning of the competition. There will be no spectators.
Even with all these regulations in place, the question still stands: is competition safe? Personally, I think Colby still can not control COVID on campus, so it would be irresponsible for us to expand our bubble by allowing other teams onto our campus and into the Athletic Center. Additionally, competition was approved for all sports, which is confusing because previously NESCAC had ranked all the sports based on their risks. That system seems to have gone to the wayside. The problem here is that the NESCAC is blatantly ignoring differing risk levels.
All that aside, it is also important to think about the mental health of both athletes and nonathletes. For nonathletes, spring competition could be frustrating, not only from peers being able to travel but also knowing that people outside the testing bubble are entering campus. For athletes, it is a little more complicated. For seniors, this is their last opportunity to compete. At the same time, adding competition to the mix creates even more unknowns than we already have. As of right now, we have no idea when we will start competing, where the competitions will be, or which schools we will be competing against. There is also the added stress of getting competition ready because practice is still restricted in some ways. Competition ready will look different than in previous years. Also, at any moment any person could test positive on either team, and the competition would be canceled. Or, someone could test positive directly following the competition, and the whole team would get quarantined.
While the prospect of competition might be exciting to some and create good press for Colby, it may not be the responsible decision for the greater Colby community.