Summer Sport Seniority

Staffer argues why seniors should play out the rest of their seasons after graduation


It all seemed like a minor setback on March 12. While it was disappointing that the spring season was suspended for two weeks due to the emergence of COVID-19, Stevenson spring sports athletes had already turned their calendars to April. Yet, as cases and deaths continued rising across Illinois, that designated date of return receded further and further away.

What was April became May, which became the possibility of a shortened season in June; a true spring season never arrived. Sure, some athletes got to play their sports with summer club teams and a taste of normalcy during the fall contact days, but as of now, it’s been at least 10 months since spring athletes have actually competed for their school. For those who didn’t even have a chance to play in a game before March 12, such as all levels of the baseball program, that period is even longer. 

Now, these athletes look to the horizon for April 19, the start date for the proposed “summer” season. Unfortunately, the summer season would end on June 26, creating a problem for seniors who graduate in May. 

Seniors have waited too long to have their season cut short by graduation and deserve to play out a full season, and if possible, with all other schools in the conference doing the same, creating an equal playing field in the process. Without having played for Stevenson since their sophomore year, telling them that all of their patience has culminated in a season reduced to just one month is both crushing and illogical. 

An average of 6.3 percent of men and 8.3 percent of women in high school go on to play in the NCAA, so it’s safe to say that most of these seniors’ careers in competitive sports are coming to a close. Why shut that door prematurely when it will only create more logistical problems for high schools to deal with? 

Since it seems that varsity rosters are generally composed of mostly seniors, if seniors are forced to stop playing after graduation, teams will be left scrambling to find players to fill holes. In some cases, teams may not have the required number of players to take the field. While it is possible to call up players from lower levels, such an action will create more roster holes throughout an entire program, not to mention hurting the varsity teams’ performances if those lower level players are not yet ready to compete at a higher level. 

With such a performance disparity in terms of having seniors on the roster, it is imperative that all the schools in the North Suburban Conference (NSC) commit to allowing their seniors to play in the summer. In order to make their final high school games memorable, the least we can do is create a level playing field. 

But if all schools are not able to afford their seniors with the same opportunity to play past graduation, then it should not be the sole determining factor of allowing SHS seniors to play. Equal competition is important, but at the end of the day, sports is about having fun and enjoying your time on a team. 

Also, it’s not as if graduated seniors playing for their high school teams will be dangerous for younger athletes. Age is the not sole determination of how physically strong and capable athletes can become. While it is inarguable that seniors may be physically stronger than other years, playing after graduation is not going to drastically change physical maturation to the point of them becoming a threat to safety of others. 

Ultimately, ineligibility should be based on academic performance and behavior, not on something as uncontrollable as graduation. Letting senior athletes live out their high school careers to the fullest is crucial. They have already missed out on over half a normal senior year; do they really need to face a similar fate for their sports careers?