Let The Kids Play: High School sports amidst COVID-19

Published by Fiifi Frimpong on

Let The Kids Play: High School sports amidst COVID-19

A year has passed since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a global pandemic on March 11, 2020. Schools closed, the sports world froze and we were all subjected to our homes for months. 

High school student-athletes are a group that have been compromised during this pandemic, particularly seniors.

I am writing this article in New York, which is a state where high school sports were not allowed for most of the academic year. I can say firsthand that many senior student-athletes here envied states like Georgia that did not cancel seasons. 

The coronavirus pandemic is the worst experience we are going through in our lifetime. It has taken away countless opportunities, but we are slowly seeing “a sense of normalcy” as some gatherings reconvene and businesses reopen across America. 

As much as northerners love to bash Georgia politicians for how lawmakers are handling the pandemic for their constituents, they got it right allowing kids to play their respective sports while the rest of the state opened up. 

Atlanta high school teams playing football. Lainey Devlin | Avant-Youth

Am I a fan of the packed clubs? No. 

It also pains me to see people fail to remain socially distanced in malls, restaurants, etc. But if every other industry gets a chance to resume, why not let the kids play as well? 

Here in New York, the issue was that movie theatres, indoor dining and weddings were allowed to resume while high school seniors were left wondering if they already played their last game or not. 

For seniors looking to play college football, a full season of games is essential. It is the difference between getting a full ride or taking out loans to pay for costs. Before colleges sent out their final scholarships to athletes in other states some students in New York wished to get their last chance of getting recruited.

George Lanese, co-founder of About U Outreach, said that even a partial season beginning last Fall may have been enough for some high school seniors to get enough recognition from college scouts. About U Outreach is a New York based organization that preps high school athletes through their college recruiting process. 

“Even if it is an abbreviated season for some kids, it is all you need,” says Lanese. “How do you compete with a kid that has a season, that has film. You can not.”

Taj McDowell, an About U Outreach client and Iona Preparatory High School student, was one of many prospects wishing they had the opportunities like student-athletes in states like Georgia. He preferred to have a full, regular season, but was grateful that his school was able to participate in drills for athletes to sharpen their skills. 


“At the end of the day we were not able to play in pads and everything but it was something [to do],” McDowell says. “That is all you can really ask for.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all school sports would resume in early April, but it is too late for prospects looking to get recruited to football programs across the country.

A huge opportunity was taken away from kids in New York. Some families predicted this and scrambled to different states for a chance to play ball. As much as I value safety, a lot student’s futures depended on getting a final season to play sports. 

Georgia has taken a lot of flak in the last year, but they allowed prospects to have the choice to play for a scholarship or sit out. 

Football teams across New York begged that opportunity. Now, they are faced with the thought that the next four years of their lives may have been a bit easier for their families if the state had given them a chance to play. 

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Fiifi Frimpong

Fiifi Frimpong is a 23-year-old graduate student at the Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY in New York City. He is a multimedia journalist and hopes to specialize his work covering sports teams in America. He is usually searching for food recipes to prepare a meal, but always ends up ordering takeout from his favorite Mexican restaurant. In his free time, Frimpong enjoys attending New York Yankee games and hip-hop concerts.


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