The Department of Education announced last week that it will be delaying the start of fall sports and requiring all student-athletes, athletic staff and volunteers to be vaccinated. The announcement came as students began full in-person learning for the first time in 18 months, and the number of daily COVID-19 cases continued to surge.
The decision sparked the usual backlash blend of genuine disappointment, exhausted frustration and reactionary outrage. It’s much easier to sympathize with the first two.
Competition is an important experience for a lot of people, and I don’t trivialize how truly life-changing it can be. Sports can push us to our physical and mental limits; you tend to learn a lot about yourself when your heart is pounding and your legs are burning and a team, school or community is investing their hopes in you. You learn to be aware of how your actions can impact others around you, a lesson that is in dire need right now.
For most people, high school is the highest level of competitive athletics they’ll get to participate in. After local athletes had their final seasons cut short last school year — and the school year before that, if they played spring season sports — it’s not hard to understand and commiserate with the impatience and anxiety a lot of people feel.
Then there’s the reactionary posturing, which thrives online and takes the form of all the usual bad faith arguments: “A vaccine mandate is an infringement on my rights” or “vaccines are just as dangerous as COVID-19.” Let’s investigate those claims…Like