Op-Ed: COVID Vaccine A Must For Athletes In 2021

October 20, 2021

As Spring 2020 sent the world into chaos, the spring sports season fell victim to the disorder of COVID-19. Seniors who all wanted one last chance to win a state championship were sent home. They were defeated. I was a freshman then and still remember the heartbreak when the lacrosse team found out our season was canceled. Seniors who had devoted years of hard work to the lacrosse program all slowly realized their lacrosse careers were over. Tears were shed and hugs went around. It was a very sad moment that I will remember forever. I know that all of those seniors would have given anything to have had a senior season. 

A year and a half later, sports are still being affected due to COVID. Just last week, the football team found itself under shutdown due to 3 positive COVID cases. The players on that team lost a week’s worth of practice and a Friday night game, and the Seniors found themselves one week closer to the end of their careers, losing a valuable Friday night game in the home stretch of their final season.

After the shut down, the question of vaccination status came up within the school and football team. Players who were vaccinated were able to return to school, but players who weren’t had to stay home for the rest of the week. There were more than 15 players on the football team who couldn’t come to school because they weren’t vaccinated. 

Many of my peers at school asked the question, “If more kids on the football team were vaccinated, would the team ever have been shut down in the first place?” There is no definite answer to that question, but the science shows that getting vaccinated reduces chances of getting COVID and reduces the chances of showing symptoms. Therefore, one would think that if more kids on the football team were vaccinated, the chances of a team shutting down would have been less. Another question was raised: Should kids on a sports team get vaccinated because then the chances of the team shutting down due to COVID are less?

There’s no easy answer. With no national or school-wide vaccine mandate, everyone has the personal choice on whether or not to get vaccinated. However, when someone is on a sports team, these personal choices have an effect that goes further than just oneself, potentially putting teammates at risk. Thus, some people want everyone on a sports team to get vaccinated. I was curious as to whether CCES student athletes view vaccines as necessary for sports teams. To answer my curiosity, I interviewed 3 CCES student athletes. 

I talked to James Delo, a CCES varsity football player. James was actually one of the football players who contacted COVID-19. He also is admittingly not vaccinated. James understands why the school shut down the football team, but he thinks it was “too much of a freak out, viewing COVID as a “mild flu.” After being asked if athletes should get vaccinated, James expressed that “athletes should not get the vaccine.” “Everyone has heard of the stats that the vaccine hurts young males with heart issues,” Delo inquired, “Is it smart for athletes to get vaccinated?” I investigated what he told me and found little evidence that corroborated his opinion. Most of the evidence that I found, actually showed that the long lasting effects of COVID-19 can negatively affect athletes. For example, Jason Tatum, a basketball player who contracted COVID-19, struggled with conditioning months after contracting COVID-19.  The last thing anyone wants is our CCES athletes to be harmed. 

Next, I interviewed Maggie Rogers, a varsity soccer player, who expressed indifference on the topic. She thinks that “athletes should make decisions that prioritize their own health and the health of others.” Whether or not she is vaccinated or not, she thinks that people should make the choice that helps them the most.  

Lastly, I talked with Ellison Mallico, a varsity swimmer. She is pro-vaccine and thinks that all athletes should get vaccinated “because it’s harder to wear masks all the time while playing a sport, and the negative effects of COVID can be harmful and can negatively impact your sport.” However, Mallico doesn’t think that there “should be pressure on athletes to get the vaccine.” 

As a CCES student athlete myself, I am scared about my upcoming lacrosse season. My Freshman season was cut short due to COVID, and a torn ACL prevented me from playing me Sophomore year. I really don’t want to miss another season and want to be able to participate in every game and practice this year. Because of this, I got vaccinated. Through research, I clearly learned that the vaccine will reduce my chances of getting COVID and will then reduce my chances of missing any part of my lacrosse season. However, I am not the only member of my lacrosse team. If someone else contracts the virus and inadvertently spreads it, the team might be shut down. Therefore, I hope that everyone on the lacrosse team gets vaccinated, but I can’t force anyone to get vaccinated and shouldn’t pressure anyone to either. I hope that no more sports teams this year are affected due to COVID, and will pray everyday that I get a full junior lacrosse season. 

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