Houston, we have a problem: Club sports need changes

Cub+reporter+Jaimie+Chun+%28center%29+slides+into+third+base+during+a+friendly+match+at+Shadow+Oak+Park+in+West+Covina+on+Oct.+24.+Chun%2C+who+has+traveled+out+of+state+for+softball+showcases%2C+believes+that+changes+need+to+be+made+in+order+for+the+competitions+to+be+safe+for+all.

Jaimie Chun

Cub reporter Jaimie Chun (center) slides into third base during a friendly match at Shadow Oak Park in West Covina on Oct. 24. Chun, who has traveled out of state for softball showcases, believes that changes need to be made in order for the competitions to be safe for all.

Jaimie Chun

One month ago, I wouldn’t have expected to see myself preparing to board a flight to Houston (with a layover in Las Vegas).

But when my club softball coach announced on Sept. that 15 our team would travel to College Station, Texas, to attend the Texas Bomber Exposure Weekend on Nov. 7  — one of the most competitive youth softball showcases — I had no choice but to pack my bags for my second out-of-state tournament of the 2020-2021 school year.

When I arrived in College Station, I was greeted with players not social distancing and clusters of fans from all across the country, fitting the definition of a “super spreader” event that our local officials in California had cracked down on. 

As much as I enjoyed traveling to compete again, it was clear to me that some changes needed to be made. 

One thing that stood out to me was the presence of snack bars that attracted maskless fans like moths to a light, and although organizers cannot control the way that people in the stands behave, I felt they should have done their part in limiting interactions by closing these shacks.

More importantly, team sports should adopt the cohort system that our own Fullerton Joint Union High School District implemented. Instead of putting entire teams on the same field, players can be put into small squads based on positions to remain together. This way, should someone test positive, only a small group will have to isolate, allowing the rest of the team to continue practicing.

But this can only be initiated if coaches make official and firm statements to modify their practices. After returning to softball practices five months ago, I’ve observed COVID-19 protocols go from strict enforcement to practically nothing at all, so much so that it looks like nothing has changed since the pre-coronavirus days. Perhaps this played a role in one of the players on the 18u team testing positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 28, which prompted my coaches to enact more strict protocols. Yet, I will have to wait to see whether these too will go leeway.

For the past five months, I had the opportunity to taste what it’s like to go back to normal play, but until our coronavirus situation improves, we must make amends and sacrifice nonessential conventions for the sake of our health.

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 14 print issue, which can be read here.