Despite the coronavirus pandemic postponing athletic competition for APSU, fall sports are on with some limitations at the club level.
Intramural sports & sport clubs coordinator Anja Shelton has announced that club athletics will happen at APSU during the fall semester.
Shelton said that the driving force behind the decision to allow intramural sports in the fall was the signing of Executive Order 55 by Gov. Bill Lee. Lee signed the order on July 31, which “Aligns the treatment of contact and non-contact sports so that no sports are prohibited by the state, provided that participants follow safety guidelines from their governing bodies or Tennessee Pledge guidelines, as applicable.”
The governor’s executive order, alongside recommendations given from the Tennessee Department of Health, were crucial in making the decision to permit club athletics.
“I think campus recreation is a vital part of student engagement on campus,” Shelton said. “Over these past several months, we’ve had opportunities to get creative and think outside the box. We’re all still nervous, coming on to campus and stuff because we know the state that our country is in right now, but we’re also really excited about the opportunities we have for the students.”
Basketball, sand volleyball, ultimate frisbee, flag football, outdoor soccer and softball were originally going to be offered during the season’s three sessions, but have since been postponed due to the campus’ COVID-19 risk level. Sports that allow social distancing will be offered during the fall, alongside an introduction of virtual esport leagues.
The virtual leagues are a new offering to the campus, bringing competitive gaming to the world of intramural athletics at APSU. Currently, the semester is slated to begin with competitive “Madden NFL” and “Super Smash Brothers” leagues, but is open to expansion dependent on the state of in-person athletics during the fall.
Restrictions will reportedly be enforced throughout the season, including temperature checks on athletes and staff, completion of a coronavirus questionnaire regarding contact with someone who tested positive, no jersey check outs and the use of electronic noisemakers rather than normal whistles to prevent the spread of the virus. Masks are required to be worn by student-athletes when they are on the sideline of games, but it is at their discretion to wear them when on the playing field. In addition, game balls and equipment will be sanitized throughout the course of any given competition.
Shelton emphasized the delicacy of the current situation, saying that “If we have someone test positive who is participating in intramural sports, at that point we potentially could go completely online and just offer a virtual league.”
As students begin a return to campus for the fall semester, Shelton’s request to athletes interested in club athletics echoes that of people in leadership across the country: “Just do your part: wear your mask, social distance when allowed, and don’t be selfish. If you’re not feeling well, and you haven’t been feeling well, you shouldn’t participate. You should do your part and isolate yourself or quarantine for a little bit to make sure that you’re not putting anyone else at risk.”
“That’s the biggest thing, if we have someone who wants to compete so bad, and they’re showing up to games, they’re exposing everyone else,” Shelton said. “Just one case there could shut down all of the offerings that we have for the semester.”