With the number of COVID cases rising across the nation, college athletes are not only taking drastic measures just to play their sport, they’re also sacrificing summertime traditions. Vacations are one of the big things I’m missing this summer. Athletes are not just missing vacations, they can’t go home and see their families either. Each sport and college are approaching this concept in different ways.
The procedures the athletes have to follow if they do decide to travel, even if this is just to one’s hometown,are drastic and take time. Making it even more complicated, procedures and restrictions are constantly being updated.
How colleges communicate with their athletes makes a world of difference when navigating this difficult time. The University of Iowa told their student-athletes as soon as they set foot on campus the rules very explicitly: Hawkeyes were not to leave school again unless they were willing and able to quarantine for 14 days. Had SIUE taken an approach like this, where us athletes were given solid rules upfront, I would not be so disappointed about missing my vacations or going home to see my family.
Athletes were originally told in June that we could go on vacation and that it wouldn’t impact our training schedule or start of season. I was told by my athletic trainer that I would be able to go on vacation as long as I would agree to self-isolate for a week after my return. After that period was up, I would get tested and then be ready for preseason on August 4. After hearing that, I asked my strength coach about what the workouts for the next week looked like and if it was worth missing. Given that information, I planned on going on vacation with my immediate family to Kiva Dunes, a small area in Gulf Shores, Alabama, for a week.
Two days before I was supposed to leave, I received new information that would have changed my initial decision to go on a trip. I was told that I would have to quarantine for 14 days instead of seven, and I would have to quarantine at my parents’ house in Missouri. I would miss the start of preseason and a few preseason games if I went on vacation.
Hearing that information, I debated if it was a good idea for me to go on vacation or not. I talked to my friends and family about the situation and came to the conclusion that it would be best for me to stay in Edwardsville and train with my team.
As I said before, things change in the matter of days. In June we were told we could go on vacation but once we got here in July that statement changed very quickly. For example, a week after my family vacation was over the health services department changed the guidelines once again. Now athletes only have to quarantine for one week after a vacation instead of two.
Athletes should not be put in situations like this in the first place. Having a clear strategy from the beginning could have prevented all this confusion. The rules surrounding travel should have been clarified before we even came back to campus.