Club Sports Deserve to Play
With D1 sports back in action, club sports also deserve the opportunity to compete.
D1 sports are officially making an appearance at Furman this spring, and I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief as some semblance of normalcy makes its way back to campus. College life will once again be characterized by football, basketball and soccer, though typical game day attire will now include face masks.
But despite Furman’s decision to give the okay to our D1 athletes, the jury is still largely out on club sports. The Furman administration referenced the topic in the most recent virtual town hall meeting, relaying that they are still “exploring what is feasible and safe for the spring semester.” Though I agree that safety should always be the primary focus in the midst of the pandemic, why is Furman so quick to okay a spring season for D1 athletes yet hesitant to allow club sports to resume competition? Surely D1 sports provide much of the same risk as club sporting events–maybe even more so given the large crowds that accumulate on game days. Club sports are a critical aspect of college life, and Furman should not be so quick to dismiss them.
Giving club sports the thumbs up this spring would provide a much-needed outlet for fun and socialization. While regulations have done well to protect student's physical safety, social outlets, by way of club sports, are vital in boosting the mental well-being and happiness of students on campus. Not only do they allow for outdoor interaction with friends, but club sports also provide exercise, which has been proven to boost endorphin levels and overall health. For those who generally avoid the PAC yet crave exercise, club sports provide the perfect alternative.
Currently, the few clubs that are practicing have faced no-contact rules, fierce regulatory measures and banned travel. These organizations have been forced to function at a fraction of their prior activity, which has subsequently dissuaded many from partaking in the activity fully, or even at all. Given the benefits club sports provide, they should be encouraged, not scrutinized to the point of non-function. Furthermore, while it can be hard to maintain social distancing in any sport, D1 athletes at Furman have been practicing since August without a major outbreak of COVID-19 cases amongst the teams. I would argue that the same results could be produced by club sports as well, if students are appropriately held accountable. Therefore, the administration should stop holding club sports to different standards than the NCAA-level teams.
It is ignorant to assume that D1 sorts pose less of a risk than club sports. While D1 athletes are being tested and following certain rules in order to stay as safe as possible, club athletes could be doing much of the same thing. The NCAA has put guidelines in place encouraging daily health checks, masking and distancing and outdoor training, most of which Furman students should be doing already as part of the Paladin Promise. If D1 athletes are adhering to guidelines the whole campus is already being required to follow, why is Furman so hesitant to allow club sports? If testing is the issue, isn’t the random testing on campus serving the same purpose as the periodic testing of D1 athletes? I see no difference in D1 and club sports in terms of safety, and the claim that there is a difference significant enough to cancel club sport competition is unfounded.
Furman athletes are required to complete their LiveSafe daily screening prior to practice. Though students are also required to complete the same screening every day, few do. If the administration is truly worried about club-sports outbreaks, perhaps they could take heed from the athletic program and mandate that LiveSafe screenings be completed prior to any club practice or game. This would mitigate the outbreak risks of club sports.
Club sports should not be off the table. Furman should just enforce the guidelines they have already set in place. Athletics are a vital part of campus life, not just for D1 athletes. Furman has always taken pride in saying that they treat their athletes no differently than the rest of the student body, but COVID-19 has exposed that this is not the case. Moving forward club sports should be brought back as enthusiastically as D1 athletics.