Up and running: why are sports in-person but not clubs?

Fall athletics have been able to meet in person, but other extracurriculars haven’t been granted the same permission.

by Ingrid Lid, Associate Editor

Infrographic by Ingrid Lid

Small, isolated celebratory dances are performed in front of a computer by Shorewood fall athletes and parents as their final forms finally submit. Fall sports have come to the rescue, saving us from the never ending strain on our eyes from blue light rays and living arguably on too much caffeine.

As lucky as we are to have fall sports up and running, another demographic has been forgotten: clubs. Why are sports meeting in person while those who participate in clubs are still stuck behind a glitchy, poorly connected barrier?

“I’m dying here. I need kids in the [class]room,” said Wesley Proudlove, the Shorewood robotics team advisor. “I’ve gotten emails out to the district because right now sports teams are meeting and doing stuff, and I’m just trying to see what the difference there will be.”

What would change if it had been clubs meeting in person instead of sports? How did sports get the green light? 

“They have to prioritize programs first,” explained Britt Harris, the Activities Coordinator. “At the high school level, it started with creating a system to safely return our directed studies students in our self-contained programs. Next it was to figure out the system for our sports teams as directed by the state and WIAA (Washington Interscholastic Activities Association). Now that those are in place, we can look at other programs in our school.”

Was it just a matter of chance? Possibly. Sports tackled its way to the front of the line with clubs skipping along right behind it. 

The ability for sports to happen in-person didn’t happen overnight. “This was approved after bi-monthly meetings from the start of school,” Athletics Director Joann Fukuma said. A lot of time and thought has been put into making the safest transition to activity in person as possible.

Of course sports have to follow local COVID guidelines prescribed by the government. These include wearing masks and social distancing— there are very few exceptions to this. “For cross country, once they got to the starting line they were allowed to take off their masks [and] you all in the pool obviously can’t swim with the masks,” added Fukuma. 

Sports seem to be going on as usual. Even games have been given the honor to hand communities an ounce of normalcy for the first time in what had been almost an entire year. 

“It felt good when the girls were being announced [at one of the girls soccer games this year]. It was like ‘Yay!’ And then you could hear the parents [cheer] and it was like ‘Yay!’ Fukuma expressed. “We’re getting closer, we still have to come to the stadium and you have to [stay] six feet apart and sit on these little dots. It’s a production, but people are able to come.” 

The fun has just begun. A whole other season of sports are starting to shake some dust off and get back into gear.

“I’ll tell you what, I have received zero complaints from parents,” Fukuma continued. “It’s always ‘can you tell me when this game is again?’ or ‘thank you so much for sports!’ And usually with a job like this you get the complainers and then you get the people who are appreciative, and it’s been nothing but thumbs up.”

Sadly, it has not been the same for Shorewood clubs. 

Amy Pottinger, advisor of Shorewood Drama explained, “unfortunately, because we had to perform over Zoom, we didn’t need as many technical theatre students as we normally do. We tried to be creative [and] to involve as many students as were interested and able, but there were constraints that we couldn’t overcome.” These are a few of the changes the drama department has been facing all because of not being in person as they normally would.

“So much of what makes drama/theatre great is the community and we did the best we could to maintain it, as we were still isolated in our own spaces. Sure, exposure to art and learning great literature is the learning objective, but it’s really about being together and coming together as a family to build something to be proud of,” Pottinger said.

Most of the time, especially now, it’s hard to find where isolation ends and community blossoms. Quite honestly, there really is no end in sight right now. However, you can find small dandelions in the pavement if you look in the right places.

There really has been a desperation for some club sociality and within that, Proudlove expressed his solution: “I have huge [15ft] garage doors that we can open up and get air moving through here, so I’d love having the kids here and doing stuff… [It’s] just [about] getting kids to be kids and be around each other.”