The Impact of Shorter Seasons on Sports

Girls+cross+country+team+before+their+first+race+of+the+season.

Girls cross country team before their first race of the season.

Lucy Trout, Journalist

Due to the pandemic, sports seasons have been shortened and have affected the performance of the athletes at Olympia High School. The fall season which typically starts at the end of August was pushed back to February leaving a very limited time to fit in all sports. 

According to Nicholas Mullen, the Head Football coach at Olympia High School, “It’s changed everything… and when it starts to get normal, it goes back to not normal again.” The shortened season is affecting both the amount of practice and the training that typically comes before the season for many sports. The Girls Cross Country coach at Olympia High School, Cris Violette believes that “we’re not going to see any improvement like we would with a full-length season.” Without the full length of a typical season, athletes don’t have quite enough time to reach their full potential. The lack of pre-season training is also detrimental to some sports like football. Mullen says that “that was the biggest piece we missed this year.” Even with athletes performing to the best of their abilities, “that weight room piece is what separates the good teams from the great teams, and that’s one thing that Covid has really taken away from athletics.” For sports like cross country, the weight room isn’t as important, but summer running definitely is. Jesse Stevick, the Boys Cross Country coach at Olympia High School, says that “the people who understand the training and that there are long term benefits to keeping up mileage, those people have seen really large improvements just after a couple of meets. This pandemic is making it harder for athletes to continue training, but those that are truly dedicated have continued to work hard throughout these confusing times.”

Not only have athletes been affected, but so have coaches. Without the full-length season, it’s hard to fit everything in. Stevick says that he has been focusing more on hill work which is usually in the pre-season, but “that is probably one of the best ways to get in shape quickly. A little less mileage but higher intensity.” This higher intensity might push runners more than the training of a regular season, but it’s the only way to progress faster. Similarly, Mullen says that “It takes away from all of the stuff I had planned to fit in, so it’s really been focusing on our base so far.” Violette also agrees that “it has stopped me from doing some of the harder training we probably would do.” This season will be much more focused on building a base for athletes rather than pushing them to be as good as they could be with a full-length season.

Although many effects of the shortened season are detrimental, there are still some positives. Violette says that “for athletes who have never done sports before, it’s a nice introduction to it without being high stakes.” There aren’t big championship games or meets, and the fear of that is often what stops new athletes. The more laid-back season is a great opportunity to build a base for a new sport without worrying about the high stakes of it. Similar to the thoughts of Violette, Stevick says “It’s been fun to see how excited people have been just to get out there and participate. So often we get stuck in this rut thinking about how competitive a league is.” With so much confusion about the start of sports and if they were even gonna happen, just having this short season is exciting. It also “puts in perspective the more important part of athletics which is just being able to be in a community,” says Stevick. The social aspect of sports is also something that many people have been missing out on ever since the beginning of this pandemic. Athletics aren’t just about winning or fulfilling your potential, but also about building a team and a community.

Even with all the rough times we’ve all been going through “It’s just important that everyone remembers that we’re going through this together, and doing everything we’re supposed to do. Normal is going to come back at some point, but right now we can’t treat it like it’s normal,” says Mullen. Eventually we’ll have full-length seasons back, and athletes will be able to reach their potential.