A little preparation now could go a long way later on, regardless of what happens during the school year with a pandemic in play.
Let’s put aside all of our opinions about COVID-19 for a second. This has been a situation where choices we’ve made mostly looked a little more like “bad or less bad” than “right or wrong,” so I don’t care right now what you think about the virus itself, how we should handle putting kids back in school and whether it’s the right time for them to play sports again.
No matter how anyone feels about it, we’re back. That’s the hand we’ve been dealt and that’s the hand we’ve got to play.
I don’t know how far we’re going to get in this fall season. I don’t even want to guess. My hope is that we’ll be able to get through a complete one with no major problems arising, but I would admittedly be pretty shocked if we are able to get through the next few months without COVID throwing a wrench in somebody’s plans. I’m not wishing for that at all — that’s just what’s been happening at reopening school districts all over the country.
So the first thing I think all of our area athletes should have in mind is their own safety. Even if you think it’s no big deal, one thing is true: the more precautions you take off the field, the more likely you are to play longer on it. If enough people don’t take COVID seriously, those in power who do take it seriously will make you regret it by postponing games or even canceling a whole season. Then, whether you think they reacted properly or went totally overboard, you’re on your own.
Which brings me to my next point. The number one argument I saw all summer for bringing sports back right this second was to let the seniors play so they can’t miss their last fall season. It’s the best argument anyone’s made for resuming sports because even though every college sports league will have to adapt to this just like the pros and high schoolers will, a lost senior season is the one problem that doesn’t have a good solution. Nobody can just get an extra year of eligibility at this level like college athletes can, and calling off the season would also make it extremely difficult for some athletes to get into the college programs they want to play for.
If that’s you — if you’re a senior still going through the recruiting process, or maybe even an underclassman looking to start putting some serious feelers out there — you need to spend more time than ever working on your brand.
You might get a few months to do this, or your might get a few weeks. There’s a real possibility the fall sports season gets canceled midway through just like the last spring season did. If that happens, you need to be ready because this is your one chance.
Get that hudl profile up to date and flesh it out. Get some video together and put together whatever you can for recruiters to see. The second you get access to some film from a game this season, use it. Put yourself out there on social media and learn how to get noticed by the right people. Work hard in the classroom to get your grades up and get an attractive GPA to display on your hudl and other social media, because that’s what all coaches are going to look for as a tiebreaker when they need to choose between similar athletes for a roster spot. Don’t procrastinate on anything right now if you want to play college sports and get a scholarship for it.
Winter and spring athletes may not need to worry about this as much as fall athletes do right now, but it wouldn’t hurt any of you to do some early prep work of your own just in case your seasons get affected, too. I hope they don’t get canceled or anything like that, but you never know.
I think all college programs will have to reckon with the fact there will likely be a shortage of game film this year due to seasons getting shortened, paused temporarily or outright canceled. There’s nothing they can really do to stop it, so my guess is they’ll learn to deal with it and work with the kids with what they do have on hand, no matter how much less that is to work with than in a normal year. Like I said, everyone will have to adapt to this.
I hope you all stay healthy and well this school year, and I wish you all good luck on the field. I’ll see you out there.