Athletics vs. Arts: Extracurricular Activities During a Pandemic

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Kendall Dexter, Staff Writer

Pandemic life has caused us all challenges, but particularly, the theater and music industry as well as the sports industry have been greatly impacted. Let’s take a look at Broadway in New York City. All theaters had officially closed down in March of 2020. At this point, they had only closed through April, but as time went on, they closed until May, and then June, and finally the rest of the year. Broadway has been closed and will remain closed at least until June of 2021. Sporting events were also canceled at the start of the pandemic. One of the major events that was postponed almost immediately was the Boston Marathon. It was said to be rescheduled in September, but come 2021, the Boston Marathon still had not occurred. The only difference between the cancellation of sporting events and theater productions is that sports have been re-implemented in schools, and even the Super Bowl of 2021 still went on. Broadway, on the other hand, has still not returned to New York and music has not completely reentered schools.

This is extremely frustrating. There are hundreds of thousands of performers putting their entire lives on hold in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, while athletes are continuing their athletics. Not only this, but people are attending sporting events when they could be watching them from their own houses. Consider the Super Bowl of 2021. Around 22,000 people attended this game. The Florida COVID-19 Response website explains that “Larger gatherings (for example, more than 250 people) offer more opportunities for person-to-person contact and therefore pose greater risk of COVID-19 transmission.” This statement suggests that groups of 250 people are the absolute maximum number of people that can gather together before it becomes unsafe. Therefore, the Super Bowl exceeds that limit by an extremely significant amount. This brings about the question: why are 22,000 people allowed to watch a sporting event in person and athletes able to play contact sports, but Broadway shows, where social distancing could be implemented, are not able to occur?

As we all return to school after February break, there is still no in-person chorus, but sports are starting up again. Sports like basketball, wrestling, and football are certainly not sports where social distancing can be easily implemented, but they are still running. Now, although singing has been proven to spread more germs than speaking normally, what is the difference between a small number of students singing while socially distancing in a well-ventilated room with multiple face masks being worn, and students running around a football field in contact with one another, sweating, and possibly yelling through their masks? Personally, it sounds much more chaotic and unsafe to be playing sports with physical contact, which almost guarantees the spread of germs. I think that chorus is much more organized and that we should not be as worried about the spread from singing as we should be about the spread from contact sports. 

Now all of this is not to discourage sports from running, but to simply bring awareness to, what I believe to be, odd reasoning for the cancellation of musical activities. If contact sports are still occurring, I believe that chorus should be as well. Either this, or neither extracurricular should be running during this pandemic. Overall, I think that the true spread caused by singing should be compared more in depth to the real spread caused by sports. But, you can always play it safe and skip out on singing and playing sports altogether and play a string instrument in orchestra instead. The viola, in particular, is a really great instrument to try out if you are looking for any suggestions.