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The Aquilian

The Aquilian

The pandemic is exactly what the sports world needed

Gonzaga athletes have adapted different types of training the past year to keep their athletic form. (Photos compiled from Gonzaga Flickr)

For athletes all across the country, COVID-19 is just what was needed. As schools began online school, adults worked from home and almost all non-essential businesses closed, countless athletes flocked to the weight room, fields and courses.

Since the end of my sophomore year, for three days a week, I see a baseball coach who works on pitching with me. Typically, I would spend between an hour and a half to two hours working on different aspects of pitching, including mechanics, velocity and types of pitches— just to name a few. Along with pitch development, we also spent time lifting, working on mobility and conditioning. Unfortunately, at the end of March 2020 when businesses had to close their doors, so did athletic trainers like the coach I visited multiple times a week. Even though I was unable to go talk to him in person and get instruction, he still sent out workouts and drills for me to do at home, and I would often send pictures and videos of what I was doing. While the situation was not ideal, many positives came out of it to help me progress.

With virtual school, my day was shortened greatly; I did not commute to and from Washington, D.C., and my classes ended at 1:30 p.m. each day. The extra time allowed for more physical activity that I did not otherwise have. Likewise, other students across the area also spent free time lifting in home gyms, going on runs, biking or simply growing any athleticism that was not present because of the previous burden of not having free time.

While athletes may have rejoiced in the ability to go and grind out work to get bigger, faster and stronger, the sports world did see major hits, which will have long-term effects.

Spring sports were cancelled across the country for high school and college athletes, and professional sports took a pause or delayed their seasons well into the summer. Fans could not sit down and eat a hot dog and cheer on their hometown team with thousands of other enthusiastic fans. Instead, we were stuck watching from our TVs as athletes played in empty stadiums and lived in a bubble without any cheers or boos.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association put a dead period on recruiting, which is still in place, not allowing schools to watch in-person sports, hindering the recruiting process.

Fortunately, the sports world did start back up again even though the major sports took a large hit, especially on the financial side. 

While major team sports postponed their seasons, individual activities saw a large increase in popularity. Golf for instance saw more than 500 million rounds played across the U.S., 60 million more rounds played than in 2019. On nice days, hundreds of individuals could be seen running or biking on the Mount Vernon Trail enjoying the fresh air. And on park fields, I often see people throwing  the football, playing soccer or simply working hard to get better in their respective sport.

While the pandemic put an unwanted pause on most sports across the country, it gave many athletes time to go out and work to improve in their respective sports. It may not have been what we wanted, but it is what we needed.

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