BVH athletes push back against SUHSD’s decision to postpone sports season

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Provided by Jennifer Barker-Heinz

BVH’s football field has not been in use since the start of quarantine on March 13 until Nov. 5. BVH student athletes have been pushing to be able to play sports in the 2020-2021 school year.

Nicole Macgaffey and Rosario Ortiz

Following the decision made by California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) and Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) to postpone high school sports, several Bonita Vista High (BVH) athletes have begun advocating for sports to return at an earlier date. In the meantime, administration at BVH are working to devise safety procedures as they wait for permission to resume seasons from the San Diego County Department of Health. 

In an email sent on July 20, 2020, by Athletic Director Tyler Arciaga, Arciaga states “CIF has postponed sports until December/January.” More information is specified in the CIF statement which was sent in the email. 

“I think they [athletes] feel that it’s [sports] important to them. It’s a big part of their life and their identity. It’s a part of their high school experience,” Arciaga said. 

Athletes began petitioning a social media petition called in early October as a way to advocate for the return of the fall sports season. Students that promoted the petition claim that the postponement of sports is harmful for students’ mental health and potential college prospects. For many, school athletics provides a positive space to relieve stress and build leadership skills. By losing this outlet, some feel deprived of a very essential part of their lives. 

Student athletes throughout the district signed the petition in hopes to bring the sports season sooner. The petition has received 2077 signatures and 590 comments as of Nov. 18, 2020. (Nicole Macgaffey)

“It [sports] just helps me get out of school and focus on becoming a better person. So it helps me in a lot of different ways,” junior, football and basketball player Kris Balladares said. 

While Balladares himself is not dependent on sports to apply for college, his peers have faced difficulties in the college process.

“He moved schools to be in a better program for himself. So it [sports] being postponed really ruined all of that for him,” Balladares said about former BVH student Darian Whaley. 

Arciaga recognizes the concerns that students and many others have, as well as offers solutions to continue to play sports safely. Arciaga provides alternatives when playing sports during the pandemic which include: having student athletes be in small cohorts during practices, expecting athletes to bring their own water bottles, disinfecting every piece of equipment in between uses per student and having a mask on at all times unless doing an activity with a high amount of cardio. Arciaga has some concerns of his own such as transportation, lack of facilities, practice scheduling and lack of daylight due to daylight savings in the winter. 

“I think the biggest thing right now is to continue to have a positive train of thought [and] hope that we are going to play, and create a mindset [where] you take a step back from the moment and just appreciate what you have,” Arciaga said. 

According to Balladares, when he was asked about the potential health risks of resuming sports, he acknowledged the need for precautions, but did not feel personally worried about contracting the virus. In his view, many students’ primary concerns were transmitting the virus to older relatives rather than getting sick themselves.

“I think that keeping people safe and healthy is far more important than playing sports,” senior Girls’ Golf Captain Hannah Cancel said.

Various students, like Cancel, recognize the negative effects of postponing sports but do not think that these downsides outweigh the risk for the potential spread of the virus. They think that keeping others safe and healthy is more important than being able to play school sports.   

“I know some [athletes] needed this season in order to get college offers. Some people like the excuse to be out of the house, and others just wanted to play their last season. But, I still don’t think any of those reasons are worth spreading a virus,” Cancel said.

Ultimately, even though Cancel “misses” golf, she views it as something she can live without. She agrees with the decision to postpone sports and believes that continuing sports poses a risk of spreading the virus to other students. 

“At the end of the day, it’s not about you, it’s about the health of the community as a whole. I get it, we’re all upset about not being able to play our sports, but for students to organize a whole walkout is a bit extreme,” Cancel said. 

As many of BVH’s athletes await the green light for sports to reopen, Cancel goes on walks in her neighborhood while Balladares plays basketball at public parks to stay active and cope with not being on a team during the pandemic.  

“Just being out there playing with your friends, playing around other people [in front of a] crowd is a unique feeling that you never get with anything else, which is one of the big reasons why people like playing sports,” Balladares said.