Right now I am physically at my best shape as an athlete. But every Saturday instead of putting on my cleats to go out and try to prove myself good enough to play professionally, I am going on walks for 80 minutes to keep my mind off of the idea of even touching a ball.
Most NCAA sports began for Humboldt State around the beginning of March this semester. Yes, it’s great that NCAA sports are beginning again. As a rugby player, however, that does not mean much. Rugby is not a part of the NCAA. This means that most rugby programs at universities, including Humboldt State Rugby, are regulated under club sports and not collegiate sports. Currently, club sports are not allowed to play until the chancellor approves. And even after that, who knows when collegiate rugby – a physical sport – will be able to return.
Envision going from playing your sport 24/7 because you want to become one of the best at it to not even knowing when you will play again. I can go to the gyms that have just opened, but it is not the same as going and playing a sport with my teammates.
Yes the argument could be made that rugby is too physical, but why then are basketball and high school football playing, but club baseball not? Will club sports be back within the next year? Why can we not play when other teams are playing? All these questions start to wear on an athlete and their mental state.
For myself and my teammates, it becomes hard to go to class or even do classwork because there is nothing to look forward to. What is the point of even going to Zoom classes when, for some of us, the reason we came to this school was to play a sport even if it is just a club?
Competitive club sports are expected to root for the teams that are playing while also being told by others that their time will come. As the sports news editor I am expected to write about how HSU Basketball played Fresno or how HSU Track and Field had a very good show out at a meet in Oregon.
All of this is hard to write about when the rugby player side of me is told that collegiate rugby may not return for another year. It becomes hard to love sports when you cannot play the sport you love.
I had always thought of depression as something that was too distant. Something that would never happen to me. But as I have learned that is not the case. It never came to me that I was depressed until around a month ago when sports started to open again. You see, in the beginning I could tell myself that all other athletes are going through the same things. But now as I write articles on other sports playing, I cannot keep telling myself that is the case.
Rugby and other club sports should be able and need to be able to compete again. Even if it were just for in team scrimmages, student athletes need their breaks from the screen. Student athletes need the ability to go and play their sports competitively. I understand that we still need approval from the chancellor of the CSU system, but you’re telling me it has been almost 375 days since COVID-19 shut down and he still does not have a plan to allow competitive clubs to play again?
To all the athletes who have to watch others compete and play in their sports, you’re not alone. We all had to retire in our teens and early 20’s, we are just waiting a little longer for our Jordan comeback.