One of the places that has experienced the most challenges due to COVID-19 is the sports world. At times, athletes have been disheartened by the uncertainty of each practice or game, and those in leadership positions struggle to find a balance between giving the athletes some normalcy while keeping everyone safe.
Anderson University athletics department continues to work with outside organizations to implement safety measures. AU athletics has been working with the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, the AU COVID-19 Taskforce, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), coaches and athletes in order to adjust to these policies as smoothly as possible.
Heading into the 2021-2022 school year, the AU athletic department is adjusting their policies regarding the virus and composing plans to maintain somewhat normal sporting events. Marcie Taylor, AU athletic director, explained that the athletes are the utmost priority.
Regarding COVID testing for athletes, the department uses the rapid antigen test. According to Taylor, “By the rules of the NCAA, the university is required to test unvaccinated athletes three times a week during competition season.”
If an athlete is vaccinated, they will not have to go through the testing process unless they have been exposed to COVID-19 and the university requests for them to do so. The rapid test results must be given to the individual prior to the beginning of practice or the game on that day.
“Starting April 18, 2021, athletes that are in training or competition are no longer required to wear masks,” stated Taylor. Due to the increase in testing and outside safety measures, the NCAA and CDC feel comfortable allowing a break in wearing masks during these times. However, once an athlete is in a sports medicine center, locker room, team meeting or bus they must put their mask on. Fans at indoor events are required to wear masks regardless of vaccination status, and fans at outdoor games/matches are not required to wear a mask.
AU, especially the athletic department, wants their students to feel valued and safe. Creating a consistent and regulated plan for testing and masking up has taken some time, but the AU Athletic Department and Sports Medicine hope they see success in keeping everyone as healthy as possible this year.