In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, sports around the U.S. came to an abrupt halt. From top-level competitive leagues to intercollegiate teams, many sports had their seasons postponed or canceled. Club sports were no exception.
With many Boston University club sports teams holding their tryouts in the Fall, the pandemic has placed an air of uncertainty on what the coming season will look like.
BU’s men’s club baseball team, a Division I member in the National Club Baseball Association, had held its tryouts in February before the pandemic hit the U.S.
Team Captain and President Bill Santarsiero, a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said it was challenging for the baseball team, especially its seniors, to have never had a Spring season.
Having the season come to a premature end is never easy, but for Santarsiero, knowing the potential the team had this Spring left players with all the more to grapple with.
“We were going to be a very solid team,” Santarsiero said. “We had high expectations this semester and we didn’t really get to realize that because of everything that happened, but I really think this would have been the best team we’ve had in a while.”
Although baseball is an outdoor sport with minimal physical contact, Santarsiero said he is unsure if BU will permit club teams to have a traditional Fall season. The opportunity for club sports to resume play, he said, largely depends on BU’s Physical Education, Recreation and Dance department, not the competitive league.
“If we’re not going to play, I would imagine it’s because of [PERD’s] own limitations,” Santarsiero said, “which I understand because I’m not sure that BU is going to have NCAA sports in the Fall.”
The economic impact of COVID-19 on sports organizations and leagues, even at the professional level, has been immense.
With more funding from the University going toward varsity than club sports, Santarsiero said club teams rely heavily on Giving Day for fundraising, which was postponed from April 2 to a later date.
Santarsiero said he is not as worried about baseball’s finances because, as a Division I varsity team since 1996, the team has many generous alumni.
“We’re okay taking a hit,” Santarsiero said. “I worry more for other club sports that… don’t have a huge alumni network or don’t have a lot of money.”
Beyond funding, Santarsiero said his team is also better off in terms of resources compared to other club teams. He said he doesn’t foresee baseball being very affected.
“For us, it’s just we need an open field,” Santarsiero said. “But a lot of clubs need pool time or they need to travel… I’d say we have it pretty easy.”
Women’s Club Soccer President Abi Ewen, a rising junior in Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, said her team is running low on funding after its first-ever trip to the National Soccer Championships in Texas last November. The fact that no dues were paid in Spring — because the team did not play — doesn’t help.
While Ewen is currently unsure of the extent to which funding will be an issue going forward, she said she anticipates the team will have to be more frugal and continue its own fundraising.
“I think it’ll be okay,” Ewen said. “I think that we’ll have to figure out what’s really necessary, and what we really need to spend money on, and then maybe wait a year if we want to spend more money.”
Whereas baseball is a relatively social-distance-friendly sport, soccer, on the other hand, involves much more physical contact between opponents. Ewen said this makes her doubtful regarding the team’s Fall season.
“Honestly, it’s probably not the safest thing,” Ewen said. “I don’t want to make any assumptions. I almost want to say we probably won’t [play].”
Ewen said she is excited to return to campus, but understands it will be a very different experience in all aspects of university life.
“We’re going to be practicing safety precautions at school as much as we can,” Ewen said, “but it’s not like [coronavirus] is going to go away in the Fall.”