Avo Reid ‘22 News Reporter
During the last few weekends, Mercersburg Academy students gathered to watch soccer games. The spectators wore masks, and the competition was intrasquad, but there were uniforms, coaches, and a scoreboard—the closest thing to going to a normal game the student body had experienced in seven months. Conspicuously absent, though, were parents and family in the stands. The collective power of their gaze, though, is focused through the lens of a camera . The athletic department has organized livestreams for every game—filmed by students and commentated by faculty.
This new setup has its pros and cons. The cons seem obvious – there is nothing that can replicate the feeling of knowing a parent is on the sidelines, watching your team, but really watching you. The hollow eye of the camera is cold, and the sidelines are conspicuously empty. The pros, while less apparent, seem to outnumber the downsides. Addie Geitner ’21, a cross country runner, says she likes the “calmer schedule. Normal meets stress me out.” In prior years, extended community members in far flung places had no way to watch games in person. Holly Trostle, parent of Andrew Trostle ’22, “feels more informed this year than ever. I hope that the athletic department will consider continuing to live stream athletics in all seasons and possibly add student commentators.” Soccer player Will Sokolski ’22 puts it simply, but eloquently: “It is nice knowing that they are watching, even though they can’t be here.”
The news should stop here—live-streams are a positive way for parents to involve themselves in their children’s athletics, even through a pandemic—end of article. But such an ending doesn’t do justice to the faculty who spent the summer organizing athletic programs in the throes of a deadly pathogen. It does not do justice to the parents who huddle around a laptop screen every weekend to watch an 8-bit pixelated reproduction of their child playing soccer, or field hockey, or football, or running through the finish line at a cross country meet. It does not do justice to the coaches who scrambled to pull together a way to play sports during a year when most of the things that make sports fun are prohibited. It does not do justice to the students who waded through quarantine, social distancing, mask-wearing, and isolation to get to the field and play the sport they love. Geitner did it justice when she said, “The experience of my parents and grandparents talking to me about the live-streamed meet was heartwarming.”
For all the lost seasons, forgone senior years, and playing through masks, there is something to be said for playing, camera or no, pandemic or no. We are here. All else is moot. Sometimes, this time, that is enough.