On the Basis of Sports

By Makayla Richardson (12)

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On the evening of October 15th, 360 members of the Chino Valley Unified School District tuned in for a live YouTube broadcast of the monthly board meeting. What made so many attend this event was that the school board was finally coming to a decision about what matters most to the community: high school sports. As the audience held their breath, the verdict was ruled that school sports can begin again, though not without its share of restrictions.

Beginning at 6:00 pm, Joe Schaffer, president of the board, laid out the agenda for the night. That evening, only three issues were to be discussed: if schools could open for Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through 6th grade, whether or not cohorts of those in need of special education can return to schools, and if high school sports teams would be permitted to practice again. 

Each topic had its fair share of complaints and support. Both had about five or six emails read before the board members discussed their ruling. After debating thoroughly and ruling on the two previous issues, the movements being denied and allowed, respectively, the main event was about to begin. 

Before the motion to vote was made, the Board took into consideration all 135 emails sent by parents concerned about their children’s ability to return to athletics. Although they could only read about thirty minutes of emails, it was clear to see that the majority was in favor of sending their children back. 

The presented emails described that the now-stagnant teens were “at a higher risk for anxiety and depression.” Almost every concerned parent seemed more worried about their children’s mental health than the threat of COVID. During the reading of emails, names were omitted to preserve anonymity and privacy.

One mother of an Ayala senior praised the wrestling program at the school for what it’s done for her son. She notes that he used to be a timid child with low self esteem. After joining the wrestling team, his confidence soared and became more outgoing. As a captain, he also learned how to overcome his “spectrum disorders.” Additionally, the parents argued, sports clubs and associations have begun their practices, so why couldn’t the schools? 

There was one outlier in favor of keeping students socially distanced, a parent from Chino Hills High School who attempted to persuade the board to keep the restrictions as they are. These concerns, though, were seemingly overlooked during the meeting.

When asked their opinions on returning, our bulldogs had mixed views as well. Zachary Zertuche, a senior on the Ayala basketball team, said, “For my own desire…[practicing again] is a good idea,” but “it gives the possibility for the virus to continue.” 

However, sophomore Olivia Mendoza from the volleyball team, said, “I think we’re going back at the right time! If NCAA [National Collegiate Athletic Association] volleyball has gone back… with the proper precautions, then why shouldn’t we?” The Board had the same mindset as Mendoza. 

When it came time to vote for the allowance of sports to practice, there was a unanimous vote from all five members in favor of allowing sports to take the “baby steps” needed to fully allow seasons to return. However, the ruling did come with restrictions. Teams are assigned one coach per sixteen players and they are not allowed to change coaches once this cohort is formed. The teams will be allowed to condition only, with no use of equipment or else they will be shut down. 

With the basis of sports settled, does this mean the return of performing arts is on the horizon?