Isabel Tarnutzer ‘21: As life begins to somewhat resume, an emergence of statements and lines of reasoning surface. Such statements include “it’s an adjustment period for everyone”, “we are in unprecedented times” and “the new normal”. These phrases become repeated over and over by authority figures, athletes and students alike. While these statements hold true when looking at the state of our nation, many of these phrases become used as covers for poor policies or methods of excusing imperfections in the reopening process. Now in no way is that to say that there can only be one right way to go about returning to normal life, very much so the opposite – no one truly knows how to go about something never previously done. However, it must also be understood that in this unprecedented time of adjustment it becomes important to see, acknowledge, and correct the mistakes and inconsistencies that come up along the way.
Many citizens, despite their patience with authorities, begin to come forth, voicing their frustrations and opinions on the reopening process. Common frustrations include the tight restrictions on the number of athletic spectators despite indoor casinos being open, or the inability to host a funeral for a loved one while others hold the ability to attend crowded rallies or protests. The frustrated citizens come from all walks of life; however, many of the grievances can be drawn back to one particular group, athletes and coaches.
For fall sports, the tumultuous relationship with the government and its reopening restrictions began in early summer, as many athletes felt unsure if they would even be allowed to play. Even after some sports got the ok to begin to practice, endless amounts of red-tape and restrictions made practices a logistical nightmare, and within each of the players and coaches there remained a looming fear that the season could be cancelled in an instant.
As the school year began, a number of sports began competitions, but the fear that it may be ripped away never left, just as many of the hindering restrictions remained – the glaring two being the mask and spectator policies. As required by the state government, every sporting event only allows a limited amounts of spectators, and both athletes and all spectators must wear masks at all times during the games. These two restrictions in particular cause much of the dissension within the Romeo community. Many athletes feel angry and upset about the requirement to wear a restrictive mask while doing a physically demanding activity, and the lack of spectators becomes difficult for players.
“As an athlete, you want to play for the people watching. Yes, you have the love for the sport, but you want the energy and excitement from the crowd to fuel you. Without it, it’s just not the same… But when we had a student section at volleyball games, we were playing for them, and we used their energy to help us out,” Gabrielle Minor 21’ said.
But the restrictions affect more than the athletes – Romeo students feel devastated by the inability to attend the sporting events that remain such an integral part of our community and fall traditions.
“As a spectator for football games, I miss going out on Friday nights, spending time with friends and watching the games. That was something to look forward to every fall, and now we don’t have that,” Minor said.
Despite the difficulties and frustrations, Romeo continues to maintain a tone of positivity through this time and works tirelessly to make this “adjustment period” as close to normal as possible. It becomes impossible to expect perfection when considering the struggles of adjusting to “the new normal”, but understanding and hearing the frustrations of others remains a useful tool that helps to not only create empathy for others but also helps spark change that will make the process returning to life smoother for everyone.