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Pandemic athletics

Cuesta College goalkeeper Dan Davis faces off against Golden West College’s top scorer Riley Pfieffer. Photo by Anthony Ramos

Have you ever played a sport before?

If you have, you know the grueling dedication it takes to succeed. And if not, the experience very is similar to a full time job.

Now, imagine playing a sport during a pandemic. It becomes very difficult to safely compete.

During the season of Covid, it’s been hard for athletes to keep in shape and compete due to social distancing and safety regulations. There are multiple steps that you must take just to practice, and even more to compete.

One of the first steps of competing athletically at the community college level is testing. Cuesta College athletes are required to test at least twice a week and 48 hours before a game or a match. If a Cuesta team plays a team that is in the NCAA, they must test three times a week on top of the 48 hour requirement.

New safety guidelines have been formed by the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) since the reopening of schools. The CCCAA is responsible for organizing community college athletics. These safety guidelines include social distancing, wearing masks, and sanitizing all surfaces after use.

Another new regulation is you must stay with your “pod” during and outside of practices. A pod is when someone is only in close contact with a certain group of people, which usually is around a group of three or four. The idea behind pods is to eliminate close contact between large groups of people. 

During practices, all guidelines are in full effect. Social distancing is a huge factor to consider during sports, whether it’s a contact or non-contact sport. All athletes must distance themselves from their teammates and opponents.

Some of the smallest details are brought to light. For example, all athletes must put their bags or equipment in designated spots six feet away from other athletes’ bags.

Games are more difficult to navigate for programs and athletes. The CCCAA came out with a reduction of games played during the pandemic because of safety protocols set by federal and state governments.

“All sports will have a 30% reduction in the maximum number of contests or competition dates that they are currently permitted and will also have regional postseason competition,” the CCCAA stated. “Formats for the postseason will be announced at a later date. The CCCAA will not have state championships in 2020-21.”

As far as competition, there is a strict protocol every athlete and staff must follow. The biggest emphasis is put into social distancing and wearing masks. 

During a game, athletes must wear a mask on the socially distanced benches when they are not playing; however, during the game or match, athletes are not all required to wear a mask while competing in any sport. There are also a limited number of people let into the game to limit contact between spectators, staff, and athletes. Once the game concludes, all surfaces and equipment must be cleaned and sanitized.

Even though the pandemic has made sports difficult to play, community colleges have put in huge efforts to provide competition to athletes. 

Sports are more than just a game. Every single athlete has put thousands of hours and hard work into their sport, and to many it is a lifestyle. Being able to play sports during a pandemic has proven just that.