Let the kids play: Winter athletes deserve extra year of eligibility too

Hannah Holliday | Cartoonist

Winter student-athletes started their season, then it was taken from them without a warning. Stability is important, and closure is important. Give the kids another chance.

Imagine you were working on a project for work or for school, and it had taken years. Years of your life were put into making this project perfect, and then you found out whoever you were turning it into had no use for it anymore. It wasn’t necessary.

Now, think about the seniors who have been working toward this spring for over a decade. They’ve fought through injuries and both bad and good seasons. They’ve fought through redshirts and coaching changes and, now, they have to fight through losing their closest friend since childhood: their sport.

The human race is facing a natural disaster it hasn’t dealt with in generations. It’s okay to take time to make decisions when coping with such a crisis. Then, once the appropriate amount of time has passed, which it now has, decisions must be made to help the people who need it.

The NCAA granted a waiver Monday to allow all student-athletes that participate in spring sports another year of eligibility. Softball and baseball players, track stars and tumblers, golfers and tennis players, all of them got the relief they deserved from this shutdown.

The NCAA should also allow seniors from winter sports another year on campus. Basketball players, wrestlers and swimmers lost their chance at a championship, and why else play sports but to win?

It doesn’t seem right to give spring sports a break and not winter. Yes, the regular season had ended for most, if not all, but the tournaments matter. Kids dream of March Madness from the time they’re able to shoot a basketball. Swimmers and wrestlers can remember the first time they stood on a podium, and now maybe their last chance doing the thing they enjoy most isn’t a reality anymore.

Giving these students another opportunity to mark their names into history, or simply gain closure with the people they love, doesn’t require moving mountains. Changing a few bylaws isn’t a gargantuan task, it’s just a vote by an organization that is supposed to put the wellbeing of its members above everything else. They even already did it for spring.

One of the biggest arguments pre-vote against the waiver was cost, but roster sizes for spring sports are immensely larger than their winter counterparts.

Some freshmen are likely to complain, and that makes sense. Much older people are asking first-year college students to give up a year of their prime, unless they are exceptionally good, for athletes who have already thrived throughout their time on campus.

But what if they were in the seniors shoes? Would they not want the same treatment? One-and-done men’s basketball players will get their time on the court, and other special freshmen will make it into lineups and starting fives, but everyone else can take a redshirt and hone their skills for when their name is called.

These student-athletes are suffering just like everyone else in quarantine. They’ve had their routine taken away, just like everyone else. The difference is, everybody else gets to go back, so why not let them?