How the Coronavirus has Affected Pali Sports

Dohyun(Andy) Ju, Editor-in-Chief of Special Assignments

The coronavirus has deeply affected lives all over the globe, and it has caused extensive damage to the sports world. Nearly all major sporting events have been postponed, professional leagues have been suspended and all large gatherings — including team practices — have been banned across the world.

The Pali Physical Education (PE) Department has undergone major changes since the school closed, as traditional PE classes are difficult to replicate in an online setting. Gabriela Leong, a Pali PE teacher, has encouraged her students to stay active by setting up assignments on Schoology. In these assignments, students are required to show proof of at least thirty minutes of exercise by using time-stamped videos and fitness apps.

Pali athletes, especially seniors, have also been deeply affected by the pandemic. With their seasons cut short and practices canceled, many of them have turned to alternative methods to cope with the absence of sports. As they pass time in quarantine, these athletes have realized the irreplaceable value of teammates and the unparalleled rush of adrenaline and competitive spirit brought to life during an intense match.

Senior Emily Bunnapradist, a co-captain of the Pali swim team, says that although Westside Aquatics, her club swim team, “has been holding Zoom workout sessions”, she still “[misses] the pool so much.” Bunnapradist says she is disappointed to miss out on the experience of leading Pali to its 11th consecutive city championship.

This disappointment is echoed in other sports as well.

Senior Alicia Sigworth, a member of the Pali track and field team, explains that working out alone has “become much harder” because of the lack of motivation from her coach and the team. She says that “having teammates to work out with and be around was something [she] took for granted.” Sigworth also mentions that through the absence of team practices and competitions, she has learned the value of her team and how social interactions with the team gave track and field a deeper meaning.

Nicole Kim, a senior who is a member of the Pali lacrosse and water polo teams, agrees with Sigworth, saying that it has been “difficult to effectively motivate [herself] to work out without her teammates.” Like Sigworth, Kim highly values the social aspect of sports and views its competitive facet as “a mental stimulus [that has been] largely absent” from her life amid the pandemic.

The emotions of these Pali seniors are summarised by senior Julian Jacobson, a co-captain of the baseball team. “Senior season was our chance to prove our worth and show that we are capable of playing at the next level,” Jacobson explained. He admits that like many others, the absence of sports from his life has been a “rough transition.”

The pandemic definitely has devastating short-term effects for the Pali athletes, but it also has the potential to completely reshape the world of sports and to redefine its role in society. Will fans and players ever recover from the emotional losses in the aftermath of the pandemic? Will players and their teams lose their economic influence in society? These are just a few questions asked by athletes and fans who are worried about the coronavirus’s impact.

Despite these feelings of fear and uncertainty, Jacobson remains optimistic about the future of sports. Although the coronavirus pandemic has stripped him and the other Senior athletes of their last season in high school, he asserts that sports will become more important than ever, as it can be used to “bring people together and heal people.”

“My hope is that people will feel the same joy and relief from sports that I do,” Jacobson says. “Life at the moment may seem uncertain to some, but someday, we will look back on this and remember that we came together and made it through [the pandemic] together.”