Graphic by Gretchen Rojewski
Graphic by Gretchen Rojewski

Podcast: Should Sports Have Been Postponed?

Portrait Perspectives Episode One delves into the issue, the backstory and the future.

December 1, 2020



A soccer net stands empty at the Macdonald Middle School field on Saturday, Nov 28. Since Nov 18, when the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an Endemic Order which, among other things, postponed high school sports, many athletics fields have been abandoned. Photo by Piper Dunfer



Edith Pendell: “I was running last week, and I came across, at the middle school, some athletes. I decided to ask them a few questions, so put on a mask, disinfected my phone, started recording, and handed it to them. I asked them if they thought the postponement of sports at this time was justified.”

O’Neal: “I think it’s justified because we cant be too careful, and you never know when it could actually get to us”

Pendell: That was Micah O’Neal, a freshman, the “it” he was referring to was the Coronavirus. 

Lampi: “I man I totally think it is. It think that it’s more important to focus on the lives”

Pendell: That was Eden Lampi, also a freshman. Both he and O’neal were running when I found them.

Roberts: “Well I think it’s more important; the pandemic than sports. I don’t want people to die because of sports. That’s not worth it because people have a whole life in front of them. So…I don’t know. I guess it’s kind of good that they cancelled, I hope they come back though.”

Pendell: That was Emmory Roberts, a senior

Sundermann: “I mean I don’t have a look at the numbers or anything, I know that for the general population of Michigan the numbers are going up, but I also know that football has been proven to not be spreader of the disease, so it’s a hard decision.”

Pendell: That’s Evan Sundermann, a junior. He is also talking about Coronavirus. He and Roberts were playing football when I found them.



Pendell: This is Portrait Perspectives, a brand-new podcast, where every few weeks, we look at an elhs- centered issue from multiple viewpoints. I am your host, Edith Pendell, and today I’ll be attempting to answer the question: “Should all sports and extracurriculars have been postponed?

 I’ll be giving you the backstory, looking at the pros and cons of a cancellation or postponement, and hearing from different members of the ELHS community.



Pendell: As of November 18th, 2020, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued a widespread epidemic order that includes ending all in-person high school teaching, as well as any athletics or in-person extracurriculars until at least december 8, 2020.  Executive epidemic orders are functionally laws. Behavior that does not comply with them is criminal, and violators subject to up to a $200 fine and or up to six months in prison.

When this order took place, winter sports: boys swim and dive, wrestling, bowling, gymnastics, boys basketball, and hockey, had just started practice. Wrestling was scheduled to start the day of the order.  Some fall Sports, at the time or the order, had already finished their season, While others, such as swimming, and football, lost the chance to participate in final tournaments or state-level competitions, at least for the time being.

This is Gwen Petrie, who qualified at regionals for the state diving finals, which were postponed, and planned to compete in gymnastics during the winter.

Petrie: “So I competed really really well at regionals, which is sort of like-I don’t want to say like-surprising, but like, I did better than I thought it would. So I’m satisfied with my season. I would be devastated if we couldn’t go to states, especially because it’s a lot of pressure, and it’s definitely a risk.”

Pendell: Petrie’s team was practicing social distancing at practices, and wearing masks whenever possible. When they held swim meets, there was no interaction between teams, and they even held virtual meets. The state swim meet was supposed to be on Nov 20 and 21st.



Pendell: The Michigan High School Athletics Association, or MHSAA  has approved a plan, as of November 18th, to complete fall Sports, and resume winter sports starting on December 9th, should the MHSAA board, at the time approve it. 

High school students in coaches are concerned, considering the rise of Covid cases in the state of Michigan, that even after Dec. 8, sports will not be allowed by the MHSAA or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, to continue.

I asked a few students whether they anticipated seeing their sport return before the end of the school year. This is Evan Sunderman, who we heard from earlier, he is a junior who plays football. 

Sundermann: “It’s hard to tell with the way things have gone with spring sports, like they did in the spring, when cases started to rise. I want to say no, but I think they are motivated to make them come back.” 

Pendell: As Sundermann just mentioned, athletes lost last year’s spring season. Here is Gracie Emmerson, a junior who lost last spring’s lacrosse season, talking about the experience.

Emmerson: “We had, I think, one practice and two days of try-out before it was cancelled. Maybe we didn’t even have one practice. We finished the second day of try-outs, and that morning, school shut down and stuff like that.”

Interviewer: “Did you get to find out if you made varsity?

Emmerson: “Yes, I did”

Pendell: In the spring, when school was originally canceled for 3 weeks, so were athletics. Some of my interviewees remember being quite sure that they wouldn’t play their sport again that year,  While others held out hope for a return after a short hiatus.  the reality was, they both School and sports  were canceled until the summer.



Pendell: While many athletes fully accept the fact that coronavirus might cancel this year’s sports, they are still downhearted about what they would miss if it does. This next quote is from Gwen Petrie, who we spoke to earlier about missing the state diving finals. Now, she discusses how she would feel if she were to lose her gymnastics season, which is a winter sport.

Petrie: “If we didn’t have any gymnastics, I would be-I think I would be upset, because gymnastics is like me entire childhood, and I joined the high school team in order to sort of re-visit that with less pressure. I take gymnastics as my fun sport and diving is my serious sport, so if I didn’t have this gymnastics season, I feel like I would have nearly as much fun, so that would suck for sure.”

Pendell: Beside the emotional impact of not having sports, there are a few other significant pieces of evidence to support opposition to a postponement or cancellation.

Firstly, So far, No cases of covid-19 have been connected to Athletics at East Lansing High School, or East Lansing High School in general.  That is not to say that no East Lansing high school students have coronavirus or have or had coronavirus, it just means that no cases  have been reported to the school. In addition, coronavirus is much less fatal in teenagers than in other demographics. In fact, only 10 people under the age of 24 have ever died from Coronavirus in Michigan.  

A nationwide survey conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison from October 22 indicates that high school athletes did not contract the coronavirus on a larger scale than the general population of teenagers, But even the study I’m referencing admits that there are always risks to gathering in groups during this time.



Pendell: There is also significant evidence to support a possible cancellation or postponement of sports. Firstly, New Coronavirus cases in Michigan hit an all time record on November 27, with 16,680 new cases. On that day, 183 people died from Coronavirus in Michigan, which isn’t a record, but is more deaths than the state has seen since June. Even though teenagers are unlikely to die from coronavirus, not participating in sports would give them less outside contact, and therefore a smaller chance of contracting the virus. This might protect their family members that are more susceptible to the vit. If everyone in the state saw other people less, then lives would be saved, and maybe that starts with high school athletes. 

A survey of about 100 ELHS students on instagram, showed that a vast majority of them approve of this decision. The prevailing attitude of my interviewees seems to be that some things need to be sacrificed, and sports is just one of them.

The next quote is from Isabella Souza, a sophomore who has participated in track and basketball, and is new this year to the district.  she offers a strong opinion in favor of “just sucking it up for the greater good.

Souza: “It just-sometimes it just is what it is. So if they are going to cancelled sports because they are thinking about us, because they care about us, because they care about other people’s heath, and then we can’t just become so self-absorbed in the fact that we are missing out on an opportunity to bounce a ball or throw a football back and forth. We are living in a pandemic. That’s really all I have to say.”

Pendell: You might resume your sport on the 8th or you might not. There’s always a chance you could catch Covid-19, but there is always a chance you won’t. Some things need to be sacrificed, while others are insignificant. What we choose is a reflection of us and our values. 


 Interlude: Final

Pendell: Thank you for listening to our brand-new podcast, Portrait Perspectives. If you have a topic suggestion for the next Portrait Perspectives, email: [email protected], and as always, make sure to follow east lansing portrait on instagram, facebook, and twitter, which can be found at the top left-hand corner of our website. 

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Photo of Edith Pendell
Edith Pendell, Multimedia Editor

Edith Pendell is a member of the Class of 2023 and is the Social Media Editor for Portrait. This is her second year on staff as a junior. Edith’s favorite...

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