GV slated to play conference-only schedule for fall sports, club sports on hiatus

Photo+courtesy+of+GVSU+athletics

Photo courtesy of GVSU athletics

Photo courtesy of GVSU athletics

Zack Goodrow, Sports Editor

Grand Valley State University sports took a hiatus earlier this spring, but word has finally broken about sports resuming play in the fall.

On Friday, July 24, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) voted to play only conference games for the fall 2020 season.

After uncertainty about the restart of GVSU sports over the past few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, it looks like football, volleyball, soccer, cross country and women’s tennis will compete once again.

Playing an conference-only schedule will give Laker athletes extra time to get back to campus, go through COVID-19 monitoring protocols, and the ability to hold preseason contests. 

“At this time we felt like moving to a conference only schedule would allow each of our GLIAC member institutions the opportunity to take more time and evaluate the health and safety concerns of our student-athletes, coaches and athletics personnel,” said GVSU Athletic Director Keri Becker. “We will continue to gather information on the best and most practical protocols that need to be administered on a sport-by-sport basis and that is an ongoing process.”

This is great news for athletes and Grand Valley State fans alike, but as while fall sports will resume, the conditions of practices and in-game attendance will likely be severely different.

The safety of players and coaches has been the main priority for GLIAC athletic directors and trainers for the past several months. With NCAA and CDC recommendations, the group has updated schedules and created safe competition protocols.

These protocols include consistent COVID-19 testing, safe training for teams, and precautions for travel. 

“We recognize that student-athletes are anxious to return to campus and their teams,” said GLIAC Commissioner Kris Dunbar. “Throughout the summer, school administrators have put guidelines in place to ensure that student-athletes are properly tested, monitored daily and training safely. I admire the work they have done to put the health and safety of the student-athletes, coaches and support personnel above all. At the same time, we’re working toward returning to competition safely.”

In mid-August, the team will reassemble to judge all 12 of the GLIAC universities ability to meet these safety recommendations. The news of fall sports returning is tremendous and is a sign of normality returning to GVSU, but resuming games doesn’t come without risks.

Fears of COVID-19 breakouts putting athletes, students, coaches, and professors in danger, has led to GVSU club sports being put on hiatus. 

For club sports, no home or away competitions will be held — unless they can be conducted virtually — through at least January 10, 2021. Some clubs will be limited to only two face-to-face training sessions per week. Other club sports will need to meet virtually.

In-person fundraising events and activities are also not authorized.

Club athletes will also need to meet all university and department requirements related to COVID-19 in order to participate. Since all club sports are voluntary, student athletes will be able to decide if they want to participate in face-to-face training. Any decision not to attend will not subject athletes to removal from their clubs.  

The news of club sports not hosting or traveling to competitions is disappointing, but was a necessary verdict by club sport directors. With uncertainty of the pandemic spreading during the fall semester at Grand Valley State, playing club sports does not outweigh the risk of an escalation of  COVID spread throughout campus.

While club sports will have to wait until the beginning of the winter semester to know their future, at least GLIAC sports will tenatively commence in the fall. The unpredictable spread of COVID-19 may cause uneasiness and anxiety among GVSU students and staff, but at least fall sports will give reasons to rally together once again during these uncertain times.