The Strangest High School Sports Year

Steven Moore, Sports Statistician

This year in almost every public high school in the state of Washington, every sports season, regardless of the sport, was cut short due to COVID-19 protocols. High intensity sports such as basketball, soccer, and football were at a greater impact because of the state’s mask wearing policies. Washington state officials mandated that masks must be worn while playing these sports, and they cannot come down for any reason when within six feet of a peer. This was very unfortunate because masks create a greater sense of fatigue in a quick manner. When running up and down a basketball court or a football field, wearing a mask seems very uncomfortable, and it distracts athletes from the game or practice ahead. On the other hand, athletes across the state were very fortunate to get a season in the first place. This year at Issaquah, our men’s varsity basketball team was able to play eight games and our varsity baseball team was able to play ten. I am very appreciative to have gotten a season for both sports, as I am sure everyone else is too. 

The Kingco 4A conference did a fantastic job with monitoring the so called “pods,” which ultimately helped protect players, families and coaching staff from having to do too much traveling during these COVID times. The pods were grouped into five schools each, relatively in the same area as your school. For Issaquah, our sports pod consisted of Mount Si, Skyline, Hazen, and Liberty. This created lesser chances of spreading the coronavirus by allowing the players to continue to compete close to home. In addition, teams who had COVID were immediately quarantined once their team received two positive tests. This is mandatory because King County and every school district wants to do everything they can to keep all of the student athletes in the area playing. Although some of the policies with masks were rough on some athletes, it is a necessity to keep all of our sports programs healthy and playing. 

From a player’s perspective, masks in a basketball scene are not ideal in any case. Every practice and game we were required to wear masks while playing, which was very draining. We were not allowed to pull the masks down at any point, which at the moment is no fun, but being out there and playing overrules all those negatives. We would get periods where we could pull them down for a couple seconds to catch our breath or to get a drink of water. Overall, the masks were not too much of a burden by any means, and they did not take away from the enjoyment of the game. Now that we are into the spring sports season and more and more people are becoming vaccinated, masks are no longer required during our baseball games and practices. I am very thankful for this because it allows us to have a sense of normalcy on the field, and it allows us to go all out without feeling restricted in any way. 

However, students from other schools were able to experience their sports seasons in different ways than others. Junior Jake O’Hearn from Kings High School stated, “The mask policy was very different, but we got to take them off whenever.” This is a nice privilege because in a high intensity sport such as basketball, a mask creates a blockade for your breathing, causing you to get worn out fast. If you are able to pull it down whenever, you will feel more energized, and you will be able to play for longer periods of time. Additionally, O’Hearn stated, “We got to have more practices this year than a normal public school because we weren’t required to follow the same guidelines.” This also plays a major key factor in a team’s development and camaraderie as one. In a normal season, regardless of the sport, you will have longer tryout periods, more practices before your first game, and longer periods of time in between games which is crucial for resting and perfecting your skills in practice. 

For some, the season was really tough because masks are extremely difficult to wear for people with underlying health conditions such as asthma. Freshman Cassius Sardari stated, “It was difficult wearing the mask all year because it’s already difficult enough to breathe while running and the mask only intensifies it.” Playing a sport such as basketball with asthma is very difficult by itself, and adding a mask on top of that not only limits your ability to play, but it almost eliminates your chances of staying in for long periods of time. A sport such as volleyball has a more medium intensity and masks do not play as much of a part in these sports as they do in higher intensity sports. Sophomore Heather Adams stated, “Masks didn’t affect me too much this year because there aren’t many periods where I am going 100%, which allows me plenty of time to catch my breath.” Every sport is different from one another in these cases. Wearing a mask while playing a sport such as golf can almost be unnoticable.

These shortened seasons can have large impacts on the seniors especially. They did not get to experience a true senior sports season, which is extremely unfair and unfortunate. Senior Jason Buezo-Lopez stated, “It sucks that we weren’t able to get a real season but I have four more years to go in college.” Luckily for him, he is one of the few with an opportunity to play at the next level. Many high school athletes cut their playing careers off at that level and decide to pursue academics in college. Buezo-Lopez also stated, “I am looking forward to seeing the development of the underclassmen in the program, and I enjoyed trying to influence them this year.” As a senior, you set the tone for all the following classes. Wanting to set a good example for younger classes plays a big role in a program’s success in the future. 

Overall, the true meaning of high school sports is to compete while having fun. We were all lucky to have been a part of a season in some way. Although it is difficult to feel shorted during a sports season, one must take it in stride and focus on the benefits. The state guidelines did an amazing job containing the virus this year and all the efforts by every school played a major part in keeping everyone involved healthy.