This afternoon, our daughter has her final home soccer game for this fall.
I was thinking that it seems like the soccer season has only started—and then I realize that it has only just started. Practices only started on September 8th, the first day of school. That was a full three weeks later than other years.
But with the state’s high school sports rules during this COVID-19 situation, the games only started on September 25th. Next week, the five-week, shortened season will conclude.
At first, my daughter didn’t want to play soccer at all. She says her sport is lacrosse, and soccer is “boring.” But we discussed the reality of school this year, how there would be limited chances to be with other kids her own age, and how important friends are. After some thought, she agreed: she’d be a part of the JV team.
It’s anything but a normal sports situation. Players, coaches and spectators are masked, always. We parents had to sign up in order to attend at home, with a limit of four immediate family members for each game. Family units can sit together, but a distance of at least six feet has to be maintained during the game itself.
Away games often refuse any visiting team spectators, or require notification far in advance, in order to prepare for contact tracing if necessary. Buses run with their windows open, no matter the weather, and players are advised to come prepared with layers to wear and blankets to wrap up in. No one shakes hands after the game, and there is no huddling and cheering between teammates, either.
It’s a strange year—but they are playing. For a lot of students, sports have little do with the actual game, of course, and any bit of normalcy seems worth the hassles.
But oddly enough, this shortened season is feeling just about right for our family. It has lasted just long enough for everyone to still appreciate it.
This is the silver lining I’m celebrating tonight… sitting on the sidelines with just my husband…properly masked and socially distanced… soaking in the last bits of a perfect sunny afternoon in the fall…supporting our daughter’s defensive actions for one more time.