AHS wrestlers struggle to adapt to the idea of potentially losing a season due to the pandemic.
Wrestling. A grueling high school sport that requires constant contact and hand-to-hand combat. It is not a normal match without the mixture of blood and sweat being mercilessly thrown on the mat as two aggressive opponents fight to win the match. But what happens when wrestlers cannot even get to pass six feet to compete with their components?
Being one of the only high school sports that involves so much skin-to-skin contact, wrestling could be forcefully shut down due to the extreme vulnerability the wrestlers have to the virus compared with other sports. Rishitha Kona (11) who is currently on the girls wrestling team responded saying “I definitely do think that [wrestling] could be canceled. We haven’t been doing well with the cases here in the United States in general and wrestling is one of the most contact sports there is so I do think it would be really risky to start wrestling this year, especially how our cases are going [up].” Fremont has noticeably spiked again with new cases, as 9,000 more people have tested positive for the coronavirus from just two weeks. The highly contagious aspects of the coronavirus make it very hard to control a small crowd of people, let alone an entire stadium full of coaches, wrestlers, and parents.
A canceled season in itself is not the only problem that could drastically change the wrestling team; the problem extends further to trying to keep the team alive. Currently, the majority of the team consists of Juniors and Seniors, and without any upcoming representation for the team, there may not be enough new wrestlers joining the team. Joshua Lim (11) states “if the season is canceled and there are no good wrestlers, why would you join the team? If there are no good wrestlers, or if the program is kind of messed up then why would [students] want to join?” Without any new freshmen or sophomores to take over the team, the wrestling program in American High School could very well come to a screeching halt.
For seniors, a canceled season could be detrimental to them because this is their final year of competitive wrestling in high school, or even for the rest of their young adult life. Rithithia says if the season was officially canceled she would be, “personally very pissed, but understanding, you know it’s a pandemic, but because I was injured last year, I didn’t get to wrestle that much and so I was very excited for this year because I would be healed by now and I can actually do things. I planned [ahead] and everything with more course lists and stuff, so I would be pretty upset, but I would understand why we won’t be able to do it.”
The coronavirus and its rate of deadliness are wildly disputed throughout the entire world. While many believe that people should take safety precautions no matter how old or young you are, others believe that the coronavirus is a cold-like virus that is mostly asymptomatic. The CDC has come out to explain that the majority of children and teenagers have either minimal symptoms or are completely asymptomatic (excluding those with medical conditions such as asthma and certain lung conditions). With much of this new research, many questions are popping up concerning the fact that competing during a pandemic may actually be a new reality.
“There are so many different people you are coming into contact with, depending on how long you last in the tournament. By the end of it, you could have come into direct contact with the blood and sweat of five different people and give the [virus] to other people. I think right now at least, while cases are still rising so rapidly, it’s too big of a risk to send kids to tournaments” Sarnobat (10).
Lim also feels wrestling before a successful vaccine is released to the public is too problematic and dangerous stating, “[Tournaments] are pretty messy already, and I mean if everyone had to get tested in order to do one tournament, and then let’s say their test results are [from] a while ago, they might have already contracted COVID. It’s basically impossible to do that without someone…getting the coronavirus”
While other sports can compromise with practices and limit space for each person, wrestling simply cannot function without two people coming into contact. With a vaccine that will perhaps not be produced until early next year, wrestling could very well be another activity that student-athletes will lose while sheltering at home.