New fall sport restrictions shut off Friday night lights

Linemen+get+set+in+formation+at+boy%27s+varsity+football+practice+Thursday%2C++Sept.+3.+

Olivia Dolan

Linemen get set in formation at boy’s varsity football practice Thursday, Sept. 3.

St. Louis County Executive, Sam Page, released new restrictions and regulations for youth fall sports seasons on Sept. 7.

Ages fourteen and below can participate in sports, as well as low and medium contact sports for all ages, with increased safety measures.  However, those above fifteen in high contact sports, such as football, boys soccer, girls volleyball, field hockey, and softball are forced to suspend their season as no games or competitions are permitted at this time. 

Page claims there is a 20% transmission rate in the 15-19 age group in St. Louis County, which he stated at a press conference on the morning of Sept. 7th. 

“It’s just too high. We have to make these tough decisions to limit the spread of COVID in our community so we don’t get to the place we’ve seen in other places in the country,” Page said. 

This decision, however, has caused shock-waves throughout the Eureka High School community among coaches and athletes, especially seniors whose final high school season is now jeopardized. 

“When the word came out that the season is going to be canceled I was really frustrated. I didn’t really know what to think or how to act but it was super frustrating,” Carter Davis, 12, said.

With this news, came the realization that some seniors will not be able to savor their final moments in a Eureka jersey. 

Going into this season I decided this would be my last year of football for my whole life,” Nate Daniels, 12, said. “All I ever wanted was to play varsity on Friday nights in front of my family, friends, and city, and hearing the news was upsetting.”

Many students are even further frustrated by the fact that many other high schools nearby have decided to continue their fall sports seasons.

“It’s also very frustrating because not even 10 minutes down Eureka, there are other schools, like Pacific, playing football and there are people in the stands watching the games,” Clayton Giorgio, 12, said.

This loss of a season affects all athletes, but especially hurts seniors looking to continue their athletic career into college.  Without games for players to show college scouts what they can do, several athletes are at a disadvantage.

“This can affect me because college coaches won’t be able to scout and see me and other players on our team’s skills and what we can do on the field,” Giorgio said.

Senior year can be a big scholarship opportunity for many players planning to play in college. Because that opportunity may no longer be available, other options for showing a player’s ability have come into play.

“Seniors are wanting and needing to get a tape of themselves if they are wanting to play at the next level,”  Gregg Cleveland, Athletic Director at Eureka, said. “Hopefully, colleges will be creative and come up with a way to evaluate our seniors that want to play college sports and have scholarship opportunities.”

Along with the technicalities of not having a senior year, many athletes struggle with the issue that they will not get the last moment with their high school team.

“As a senior, it affects you a lot more because it’s not like you’re a junior or underclassman that gets another year or two to play. When you’re a senior, this is it. It’s one and done. You don’t have another year. This is the last time you will ever play a fall sport again in high school,” Giorgio said.

Because of the issues athletes will face by the cancelation of their season, Page has recommended moving high-contact sports to the spring. 

“The Department of Public Health has advised that for moderate and high-frequency contact sports, schools should seriously consider moving those seasons to the spring as the Missouri State High School Athletics Association has given them that option to do so.  That gives them the opportunity for a full season of play, while a season now is partial at best,” Page said.

However, this suggestion also comes with its own series of setbacks. With so many sports requiring a field at the same time, space becomes limited.

“Moving our fall sports to spring would be a challenge.  Facilities are an issue, spring is a wet time of the year and we would have football, boys soccer, girls soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, and track and field all needing the same area for practices and games,” Cleveland said.  

Along with cramming multiple teams into limited field space, coaching and staffing could also pose possible issues.

“Umpires are already another issue, having baseball and softball at the same time would present major problems,” Cleveland said. “Finally, we have numerous coaches that coach multiple sports, and their seasons would be overlapping, so you would have another problem.  We need to hold out and do everything possible to play some games this fall.”

Regardless of the issues facing countless athletes in St. Louis County, many are striving to stay positive and to focus on the game.

“My mindset has always been to stay positive and not lose focus. We still haven’t heard anything yet from our own superintendent for our school district. I know that he wants fall sports to happen just as bad as we do and I know he’s doing everything he can to let us have a season. So until there is another announcement that we can’t play, I’m staying positive and optimistic,” Giorgio said.