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Guest commentary

For Windjammer Abaldo, sports so much more than fun and games

Sad, strange times indeed: COVID-19 puts damper on important athletic experiences
By Christopher "Skye" Abaldo | Sep 13, 2020
Courtesy of: Christopher Abaldo Christopher "Skye" Abaldo.

Rockport — Sports are more than just an activity. They create lifelong relationships. Sports can be a lifeline, lifestyle, and an outlet when life knocks you down.

It is an ageless pursuit. From a young age these athletic undertakings build values. As Mike Ditka, football hall-of-fame player and coach said, “You’re never a loser until you quit trying.”

Sports teach competition, social skills, and how to deal with loss … just to name a few.

Athletics have provided me with coaches and role models I can look up to. Sports can bring the best out of me. Sports also were a basis for many of my friendships over the years. These activities always were there when others were not.

These pastimes served as an outlet, a simple way to let go and work through hardships. Even during the lowest of lows, athletics never failed to warrant a smile. I know that I am not the only one who feels this way. Almost everyone, billions of people, have at least dabbled in sports and it means something uniquely different to each of them.

Sadly, everything changed in the early spring of 2020. Schools closed, businesses began to shut down, and organized sports followed in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. Track and field, baseball, softball, tennis and year-round sports, just to name a few, came to a halt. All professional sports were cancelled or postponed across America due to the pandemic. Globally sports came to an abrupt stop.

Fans, now stuck at home deep in quarantine were missing their favorite teams every day and the luxury of watching them compete. Athletics, with their rare ability to bring joy to a general populous, now was completely out of the picture when they were needed most.

The loss of sports during such a pandemic touched even the small area of Midcoast Maine. Children who played sports at high school, college, and grade-school levels, who look forward to their annual season, had lost a large part of their school experience.

“I was sad to miss out on my softball season,” said Windjammer athlete Alyssa Bland. “[Luckily] I was practicing on a travel team out of Portland the whole year so over the summer I was able to play through them.”

“It was a real bummer … to not be able to see all of my teammates, and coaches, and to not be able to compete with them for one last year was very saddening,” said Windjammer track-and-field athlete Josh Pearse. “[I’m just glad I got to play basketball in the winter].”

As I finished this article, coronavirus cases in America were through the roof. As of Sunday, Sept. 13, there had been more than 6.7 million cases and 198,000 deaths in the United States. In the world there were nearly 30 million cases and 930,000 deaths. This means America has contributed to about 25 percent of the worldwide numbers.

This a shocking reality and it is no surprise school districts in the country have had a hard time bringing back school sports.

All spring sports during 2020 were canceled, but the fall of 2020 brought — and continues to bring — hope for school-related extracurricular activities. Camden Hills Regional High School has reopened sports practices for the fall, but there is no guarantee games, matches, or meets with other schools or athletes occur during the season.

There is considerable pressure on superintendents and principals during these times. And as a student I understand their focus is on academics and school sports are not high on their agenda. Maine has been relatively unharmed due to COVID-19 compared to other states and hot spots throughout America, so I agree sports should resume.

Since there has been a lack of recent substantial new cases throughout Maine (there has been nearly 5,000 cases and 135 deaths thus far during the pandemic), especially Knox (33 cases, 1 death) and Waldo (73 cases, 14 deaths) counties, I think reopening competitions should not be completely out of the picture.

In my eyes the philosophy should be safety first, but small risks cannot be completely out of the question.

“I feel like we should be able to safely make an approach to fall sports so that not only can athletes feel safe playing, but also spectators,” said Windjammer football player Ryan Clifford. “Sports are a major part of a lot of student-athletes lives and I feel as though getting back into regular sports seasons and such should be a top priority.”

When asked about schools allowing spectators, Clifford said, “[It should be implemented] slowly but surely, as long as [spectators] are wearing masks and social distancing. Fans are a huge part of high school sports, without them it wouldn’t be the same.”

Sadly, new information recently surfaced that fall sports were canceled and there would be no competitive play for CHRHS. This news was not taken lightly by the players, students and anyone else who cared greatly about fall sports.

This decision by school district officials led to protests in the streets of Camden. Also, many students took to social media and shots were fired at players who wrongly put “Let Them Play” protests over the importance of “Black Lives Matter.“

In recent days, school officials have said school golf and cross-country events will happen, with football, field hockey and soccer still sidelined

Overall, this situation brought on by COVID-19 has caused great turmoil among our community and in the world. I do believe as far as Midcoast high school fall sports go it should not be out of the question to reevaluate the problem once school has started and cases are not increasing.

“[I’m] hoping we get to play some games,” said Bland. “Even if it’s just against schools closer to us.”

Christopher "Skye" Abaldo, 17, lives in Lincolnville and is a senior at Camden Hills Regional High School. He plays basketball and snowboards. He also enjoys to write.

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