Thoughts Behind the Covid-19 Redshirt Year

Amidst all the school closings, store closings, and now quarantined lifestyles, many collegiate athletes find themselves at a loss. After a tragic and sudden end to the season of spring athletes due to the current Coronavirus, the NCAA has offered the opportunity for students to use this prematurely concluded season as a redshirt year. Some appear to be elated while others discouraged.

From an optimistic standpoint, many athletes have the ability to make up for their lost season and complete the typical 4 season run of most collegiate athletes. As well, for many student-athletes who might not see playing time in their future, there is the opportunity to better their skills without missing out on a season or spending a year riding the bench for most games.

Though, there is as well the negative standpoint. The first of which being no athlete truly wanted to lose a season like this. The current team they are a part of will no longer be the same as seniors graduate, programs adapt, and positions change. No chance at a national title, a conference title, or any accolades for the season.

One must also look at the financial toll of a 5th year taken after the occurrence of Covid-19. Many athletes are already being supported by a scholarship, but very few find themselves holding a full ride. Due to this, student athletes who may not be able to afford a 5th year as is must decide between debt, or losing a year of the sport they love they most (which many will cease to continue once their collegiate career ends).

There is then the aspect of the seniors. Many were looking at All-American status, captain-ship, a starting position, and a chance to lead their team into one last season of victory and success. This has now been stripped away abruptly, and these seniors now have to decide whether to accept this defeat, or postpone their futures for the sport they love. These seniors have already found themselves accepted into grad school, beginning jobs in different cities, and pursuing what the future holds for them. Now they must decide whether to put their future on hold or give up years of blood, sweat, tears, and sacrifice.

Brown senior Garett Delano is one of the many seniors forced to make a tough decision about their athletic careers. Image courtesy of the St. Cloud Rox

The sacrifices collegiate athletes make for their sport are nothing less than significant. Even from the moment they touched a ball, a stick, a racket, or put on a uniform. You give up aspects of your social life, moments with your family, and the ability to live what is deemed a normal life. Instead of frat parties, there are 7am lifts. Instead of internships, there are summer workout packets. Instead of tailgates, there are film sessions. Through all this sacrifice, spring student-athletes are now in a position where their efforts seem to be for nothing.

Ultimately, nobody planned for the global pandemic we are currently battling, but we are now in a state of facing it. Collegiate athletes must now decide how to handle this and how to move forward. While it is not a pleasant option, it is an option they have to face. As an athlete in the college realm, the choice that is faced here is nothing simple, and it will be interesting to see how many athletes ultimately decide to use this redshirt year versus having to sacrifice a year of hard work.