Not sure what terminology you used the past ten weeks in America – I realize the timing is different for different parts of the world as is the language used for what staying inside is – but regardless of jargon, for most of us, sports were pretty much shut down globally for some time.
In fact, professional and amateur athletes from around the world were encouraged to share their best “play inside” skills on social media. And, whether you are an athlete, a coach, a sports parent, referee, director of an athletic program or an admin booking hotels for sports teams – for all intents and purposes sports came to a complete stop and may never be the same again.
For better or for worse, when we return to play, it will be different.
But, I think there has been so many wonderful, and perhaps hard, things we learned about ourselves and our sports these past ten weeks. Here’s my top ten:
- Athletes are creative, they’ll figure out how to play if they want to play – even if by themselves. So many creative ways to “play” the past ten weeks: skiing, figure skating, swimming with resistance in mini-pools, the April Ross Challenge for beach volleyball, it was so refreshing to watch kids be kids and have fun experimenting with their sport.
- Not having a busy youth sports schedule created time for families to connect but it also created space and frustration for families who are used to moving at light speed. Either way, it gave us a chance to suss out our priorities if they were out of order.
- For some, sport is the only emotional or safe outlet they have. There was an ache in many coaches hearts knowing “their kids” may not be in the safest situations. It has been said that coaches are second responders, we feel that ache for our athletes deeply. Up2Us Sports is providing mental health support through their coaches and working on ways to bring distanced coaching to the most underserved sports communities.
- Some youth programs will not return or be canceled indefinitely after this. Their funding or their athletes ability to participate is no longer a financial reality for many families. There are many programs bridging this gap, but the reality is we will lose many amazing programs and athletes permanently.
- Teams are teams are teams. Athletes, coaches and everyone in between worked hard to stay connected as much as they could. Again, there was so much creativity in how programs continued to educate, coach, promote and bring value to their athletes.
- I think about the refs. Not the professional refs (sorry), but the community refs. Some of them referee’d games/matches in their retirement, as a second income, as a first job or as a way contribute to their families income. Some of them may not have been the quickest on the whistle or seen every call the parents saw, but there are some great people who loved their jobs, had a social outlet through their work and could earn some income as a ref.
- When there was nowhere to play, no distractions of medals, podiums or win/loss records – some athletes chose to work on their minds.
- There was loss for so many. Sports is an industry and this was an unexpected off-season for everyone. There will be repercussions – financially, emotionally, mentally and physically for many people. There will be necessary and permanent structural changes that have and may create a need for more education around mental wellness and mental health protocol.
- The lessons from sports are there whether we are together or not. Learning from challenges, being cheered on by a teammate or member of you community, having a safe adult coach, listen to and push young athletes to try something new – we can do this in the context of sports or in other communities as well.
- Thank goodness we had “The Last Dance” documentary. Without televised sports weekly or nightly, history gave us a gift.
Maybe you have some more things to add. I’d love to hear them. I know I don’t represent every demographic or every sport, but I love learning how sport impacts athletes, coaches and programs around the world.
Priscilla Tallman is a freelance writer in Phoenix, AZ. She has an undergraduate degree in Psychology and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She has written for FloVolleyball, Volleyball Magazine, The Art of Coaching Volleyball, Sweat RX, Gorgo Fitness Magazine, CrossFit Fury, The CrossFit Games and OPEX Fitness. She written two performance journals
She is an 2x All-America volleyball player from the University of Georgia, SEC Freshman and Player of the year and was inducted into UGA’s prestigious Circle of Honor in 2006. She has played on the US National Team and enjoyed a bit of professional ball in Europe and on the beach. She has coached at the youth, high school, club and collegiate level. She is married with two children and currently coaches performance and mindset journaling to youth and college athletes and coaches.