COLUMN: Will fall sports work in the spring?
The spring athletic season is a busy time at Salisbury University.
Fans already have no shortage of teams to follow as many of the spring teams compete with some of the best in Division III.
During the spring of 2021, there may be even more sports to keep up with.
As of September 7, all fall sports that were postponed are scheduled to take place during the spring semester. This means that, as of now, 13 varsity sports will be taking place in the same season.
This would undoubtedly be an exciting time for fans and community members. The opportunity to watch so many different sports at one time is a unique one.
But it also presents some unique challenges that Salisbury and many other colleges may have to confront.
To start, scheduling for these teams could be challenging.
Many Salisbury teams already must get creative when planning their regular season schedules. Now, at least at Sea Gull Stadium, fall teams and spring teams will be competing for time on the field.
The football, men’s and women’s lacrosse and field hockey teams all play on the football field in the stadium. Trying to divide these four sports among seven days of the week to share the field for games will likely be difficult.
In addition, the situation may require teams to share practice times when teams choose to practice on the main field.
While this is a potential red flag for stadium-based sports, other sports with their own fields have less of an issue. Baseball, softball and the soccer teams, for example, will have less of an issue with this.
Another thing that may need to be addressed could be parking, not only for spectators but visiting teams as well. With so many sports competing at the same time, there could be potential for several teams, each with multiple buses, arriving to campus around the same times.
More athletes participating in regular season play means a greater number of athletes may need to be monitored than a typical spring season. This could add a unique burden on the athletic training and sports performance staff as they try to keep every student-athlete in the best shape possible.
The mental health and overall adjustment for the student-athletes is critical and cannot be overlooked.
Fall student-athletes have already endured the adjustment to a semester with no sports and a lot of virtual classes. Now, they could have to adjust to the wear and tear that comes with competing in a sport at a time they are not used to.
In addition, many athletes are in or beyond their fourth year at SU. Whether sports are played in the spring or not, some students will have to make tough decisions on whether they will stay and hope for another chance to compete or move onto their next stage of life.
Then, of course, there are the impacts of COVID-19.
It is impossible to know how the spring will look when it comes to the virus. It could be possible that the spring season could be played with minimal precautions in place.
However, there is also the scenario that the virus is just as dangerous in the spring. If this is the case, having four teams share the stadium would have another set of roadblocks.
To start, everything that is touched by the teams would probably have to be sanitized and disinfected. There would need to be a set of protocols in place for visiting teams arriving on campus.
These problems are not all unique to Salisbury University, as many colleges are facing similar challenges. However, these are problems that could impact whether fall sports are able to be played in the spring and how the season looks overall.
Despite these challenges, I share the hope that we could see the student-athletes and coaches of the fall sports get their chance to compete in the fall.
By NICK LEWIS
Featured image from Sports Information.