To the Editor:
The future of American sports remains unclear. In professional sports, all but the highest levels of competition have been shut down and players are asked to live in bubbles. Drastic rule changes, lack of fans, and a busy news season have left teams in financial holes and ratings have plummeted.
In the world of college athletics, athletic departments have aggressively stripped less-profitable sports. In my opinion, the biggest change that will come to collegiate athletics is the elevation of individual voices.
Prominently, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence announced his support for starting the college football season in a viral tweet shortly before the season was officially announced. Whether Lawrence’s tweet had any bearing on the powers that be remains unclear, but college players are willing to speak their minds in the public eye.
The cumulative effect of players taking a stand may eventually lead to changes at the collegiate level and beyond, including enabling college players to make brand deals and loosening draft eligibility requirements.
On the surface level, high school sports can appear to be the least affected. They are funded by the taxpayers, so they don’t require a fan base and they won’t make you famous. However, the nearly 8 million high school athletes in the U.S. is roughly 16 times the number of college athletes.
These athletes have been sidelined from their usual competitions and the lifelong benefits high school athletics offer. Those who have competed at the high school level understand that the camaraderie is unsurpassed. Friends, coaches and teammates forge lifelong bonds and memories at the high school level. Getting these students athletes back to competition is a tough but very necessary task for our local, state and national leaders.
While it is unclear what the future holds for sports, one thing is clear: We need sports. With the high school winter sports season in Illinois scheduled to kick off sometime next month, I am optimistic that full seasons can be completed safely for everyone involved. I wish all local teams and student athletes the very best of luck as they begin their seasons.