Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic in the United States, the sentiment had been stated to the death of how unprecedented of a season that this spring of 2021 would be for all SWAC sporting teams that have participated. While this had been true in a variety of ways from the student-athlete perspective, the viewpoint of the general spectator at home has changed little.
As the viewing audience, however, it does benefit us to understand just how the landscape of the SWAC may be changed due to the effects that this season has had, on not only the corporation that is the SWAC, but the thousands of student-athletes who sport SWAC jerseys on Saturday afternoons.
For instance, the already overworked training staffs of many prominent HBCUs have persevered throughout the chaotic season that has been up to this point, but just like the athletes that they tend to, there’s only so much work that can be done before the grind of the stacked seasons wears on anyone. If the priority is keeping injuries to a minimum and being as effective as possible in keeping our players on the field, it would serve to benefit all SWAC Athletics programs to invest in their medical and training staff over the summer as we attempt to transition back into some sort of normalcy in SWAC sports.
Similarly, what is the fate of the marching band? I feel as though I speak for the majority when I say that as much as we love all the student-athletes that produce on the field and courts of play, the Human Jukebox plays an integral role to who Southern is as not only an educational institution but a cultural institution as well. If the threat of COVID is still in Fall 2021 what it was six months ago, then we are still a world away from the true SWAC sports experience.
Most importantly, however, we must take into account the student-athletes. For the majority of student-athletes who have donned a SWAC jersey, the amount of research that has begun to go into maintaining peak physical condition has become common knowledge. For many, shortening their schedule means losing out on preparation, rest, and recovery time just for the sake of maintaining the conference calendar.
Then again, there are likely just as many student-athletes who want to hoop and take the field, regardless of the circumstance, and to them, I say that their voices should be heard as well. In any room where the fate of the student-athlete is being discussed, however, they should have adequate representation in those spheres. After all, if the history of sports has taught us one thing, it’s taught us the health of the student-athlete is ultimately best left in the hands of the student-athlete, and while I’d love to see full-powered SWAC action in the Fall, I’d urge all participating parties to heed their bodies and put their own health first and foremost