Fall sports cancellation is hypocrisy and further divides the haves from have nots
It was with shock that our family read of the fall sports cancellation by the South Coast Conference. The hypocrisy of this cancellation is deafening. First, the decision ignores the health data. Second, at a time when schools are championing equality, the decision further divides the class structure in the United States over which so many riots and protests have erupted. This decision denies public school students the opportunity to participate in sports, while students whose parents have disposable income can pay for their students to play in private, fee-based leagues. The SCC fall sports cancellation is hypocrisy and further divides the haves from have nots.
This summer, we were excited to see coronavirus cases decreasing and a sense of life in the economy. We have been counting down the days to the September 15 start of public schools. We have read about summer private sports leagues successfully held such as Mariner Soccer players without masks, and the Massachusetts Golf Association Amateur Open held at the Kittansett Club in Marion July 13-17, 2020, again without masks, and know individuals who have participated in private hockey and lacrosse leagues across the Commonwealth and New England. And, again, without masks. All participated without coronavirus infections. So, we had high hopes for a fall sports season.
But, the SCC, despite coronavirus data, despite MIAA recommendations, and despite success in private summer leagues, still chose to cancel the fall season. Why?
For some students, their parents may be able to afford the private league fees and continue to play the sports they love this fall. But, for many students this will not be an option. The public education system that is meant to support and uplift all students is letting these students down. The public education system is depriving them of opportunities to support their physical and mental states, and potentially depriving them of future opportunities.
Students on a path like David Abolarinwa (featured in the Standard Times, April 21, 2020) who cannot showcase their talents on the field will also not be able to train and develop as a student-athlete with hopes of a scholarship to college or a future career. If public schools keep the students off the field, no one will be able to see them.
In a Commonwealth that champions social justice and equality it is hypocrisy that we are not providing an equal playing field (pun intended) for all students. In a Commonwealth that has prided itself on “following the science” during coronavirus, it is hypocrisy that the SCC is ignoring the data that not only trends down but also states nearly no infection rates for healthy students and adults. Further, fall sports such as golf and cross country literally exemplify the tenets of social distancing.
While the SCC letter says “defer”, in March the districts also sent out a letter which said schools would only be closed a week. So, no one can say with certainty that this deferral won’t be a permanent cancellation of the 2020/21 season.
We still have some time to restore good judgment and reinstate the fall sports seasons for our students. I hope the Superintendents find some rational thought to do so. We commend New Bedford and Dartmouth for stepping up and doing the correct action for their students by joining another fall league. The rest of the towns including Fairhaven now owe all students the same opportunity for an equal playing field.
Kaisa Holloway Cripps, Fairhaven
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