Swim Mom Musings: Enough – Let Them Swim

September 06th, 2020 Swim Mom

The opinions of this article reflect the feelings of its author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SwimSwam nor its owners.

Courtesy: Donna Hale

How long will many of our student-athletes suffer because our nation mismanaged a pandemic? How many will be robbed of the dreams they worked their whole lives for because we cannot figure this out. I know the virus is serious and even deadly, but so is our willingness to throw in the towel. To quote John Lewis, it is long past time we made “Good Trouble.” If we don’t share our collective voices the consequences for so many will be tragic.

Look at what is happening already. Swimming programs rich in history are announcing closure. And don’t think we are likely done. Just today another D1 program is gone. Enough! It’s just become too easy for schools to do this in all sports.

Again this is in no way intended to minimize the seriousness of the coronavirus. But, we should be figuring out how we live with this new reality instead of hiding in the locker rooms. Many college sports can be played and safely compete with the right protocols in place. Cancel is not the right answer for everything we treasure. Just because a high contact sport like football maybe cannot go on does not mean all sports disappear. Now I know this is going to make some of you angry. The deaths are tragic. But so is all we have lost.

Obviously we all care about the safety of athletes. But, why can we not figure this out without throwing in the towel? As I said, I know this will be controversial for many.

But the collegiate athletic experience is unique. It’s worth making “Good Trouble.” We owe it to the students to do what we can. Many have devoted their entire lives to their passion. If we let this season just go what are the real long-term consequences? They have sacrificed many hours, worked hard, and looked forward to their collegiate years. What is the cost to their mental health to have it taken away so easily? Yes, the things we are losing matter. The mental health of our student’s matters. Perhaps they deserve more voice in the choice. No one in any sport should be forced to compete. But maybe — just maybe  – the athletes deserve a bigger voice and to make their own choices within reason. I do not envy any coach or conference.  And I don’t know the answer but do believe we ought to ask all the questions.  This is my plea:   Let them swim if it can be safe.   Even if it is different.

Testing, social distancing and strict protocols make sports like swimming, diving, and tennis possible.  These are just examples.  There are others.

Let’s make “Good Trouble.” Challenge the NCAA and conferences nationwide to figure it out now. Are we really planning now so they can compete in the spring or is this kicking the goggles down the road? We are getting good at that when it comes to this pandemic. Not only in sports but in all aspects of life. I understand the virus is serious. Do we really understand the choices we are making and what they mean?  The mental health anguish? The lost opportunity? Even the very future of college athletics?

I will take the heat I know is coming because I believe in what I am writing. For a sport like swimming, the economic ramifications are huge. How many students will continue with their clubs if they don’t see signs we are trying? Will they just give up because it appears we have? Will more college programs disappear What about the industries that depend on swimming sales? This is about economic fallout as well as long-term consequences.

Will we lose more college and club teams? I am betting yes. And on it goes. It’s already bad enough. This means lost jobs. Will we lose all the progress we have made in drowning prevention because we are taking away opportunities to learn to swim?

I’m just a mom but have been around this sport long enough to spot the unintended consequences of no action. They are profoundly real. This is intended to be about what is possible.

Let’s get in some “good and necessary trouble” to protect not just our athlete’s health, but the pure joys and critical experiences that make a life. When will all we lose be too much to bear?

Donna Hale has been a swim mom for 17 years.

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ThirteenthWind
2 months ago

In a time of racial unrest in America, using (and directly citing) a racial justice activist’s words to talk about a predominantly white sport seems a bit tone deaf. I hear your overall message – that college swimming (and sports generally) can be run safely. But it’s more than just what the athletes do in the pool and on the court. The sad truth is that even if all athletes are kept perfectly safe during training and competition, they still have lives away from the sport. They still can come into contact with individuals who don’t follow COVID protocols, who will put them at risk. Heck, even the athletes themselves can be putting themselves at risk away from the pool.… Read more »

Bekah Welch
2 months ago

Yes but there are plenty of Black kids who want to swim right now. And it’s IMPORTANT for their well-being.

Last edited 2 months ago by Bekah Welch
Swammer
2 months ago

I agree with your mental health arguments and think you should have expanded on those. The mental health crisis in this country will overwhelm us in the days and years to come. As you mention John Lewis and as College football has opening this weekend, I want to take a moment to recognize the interplay between college football, COVID, and systemic racism. Most college swim teams (And others) exist because of the revenue generated by Football, an overwhelmingly Black and Brown sport. Maybe we can lead with making some Good Trouble to eliminate the inequalities facing people of color and other disenfranchised – all the while appreciating that college swimming exists as a result of their efforts on the field-… Read more »

Rookie
2 months ago

Good luck convincing this crowd, Donna.

Do we really understand the choices we are making and what they mean?

Clearly not, as evidenced by all the hand-wringIng that goes on in here every time a program closure is announced. Blaming AD’s for their response to $30,$40, $50 million dollar holes blown into their budgets is laughable. Actions have consequences. Things that cannot go on forever will stop. If people think losing swim programs is bad, wait until we start losing entire universities and colleges. That’s coming. Last edited 2 months ago by Rookie Coach Reply to Rookie 2 months ago Time to cut you off of the doomsday koolaid. You had a good argument going and just blew it like Barkley in the 4th quarter. Rookie Reply to Coach 2 months ago You just made my point, Coach. Stay locked down. Shut down everything with the one life is too many argument. Let’s see how that works out. Keep coming up with reasons to shut down everything…the possibilities are endless to do that. Or assess the risks and try to begin again. But if you don’t think there are colleges and universities in really dire financial straits (not just athletic programs), you’re in for a truly rude awakening. Coach Reply to Rookie 2 months ago I never said to stay to stay lockdown. I’m against lockdown. People should just follow the rules and we get through this. You just ASSumed I wanted lockdown. A few… a very few small amount of schools have cut or made cut backs in non-revenue sports. Yes schools are loosing money and projected income, but schools are not receiving less money from student tuition or other forms of funding. Grow a spine. Put on a brave face and move forward amigo. The future favors the bold. Rookie Reply to Coach 2 months ago My spine is fully intact, thanks. I can’t decide if you’re not very bright, or have reading comprehension issues as you and I seem to be on the same side of this argument. As for colleges facing budget shortfalls…the first article in my Google search (I’m sure you can find more on your own). Stay loose, Coach. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/23/colleges-cut-programs-in-face-of-budget-shortfalls-due-to-covid-19.html Coach Reply to Rookie 2 months ago I know we are on the same side. That is why I pointed it out to you in my previous comment. It’s the HOW we are dealing with it that sets you and me apart. Trying to preach to me with a quick google search from 2 months ago shows your lack of experience dealing with budget shortfalls and how to prepare and deal with them. I understand this is very scary for you, but don’t get it up hope and please don’t spread fear. Trust those with experience and please do your best learn from your mistakes. sven Reply to Coach 2 months ago Doomsday koolaid? The higher education system has been slowly dying for years now – I had an ex in higher ed and she mentioned the “enrollment cliff” long before COVID-19, as costs went up, enrollment went down, and deficits increased. It’s been clear for a while now that the trajectory of higher ed was unsustainable, so after COVID threw gasoline on the fire, I don’t think it’s alarmist to say that entire universities are at stake and that the college system as a whole will be permanently changed. We can wax poetic in SwimSwam opinion articles about how great college swimming is, but in light of that, losing swim teams really is small peanuts. Here’s the other side of that,… Read more » Coach Reply to sven 2 months ago It is doomsday koolaid. No grey area to it. Unless Rookie has lived through a pandemic like this before, which he hasn’t, then he doesn’t know and it shows. You had an ex tell you her opinion about an enrollment cliff… ok what school would that be? I have a wife in higher ed and at a large university and she will say the exact opposite. I’m sure many schools, like you said will have to reshape. Completely agree. However, reshaping/force shaping is why many colleges continue to be so successful. H Where did you get the 95% number? sven Reply to Coach 2 months ago Yeah, I gave some anecdotal evidence to point out that this conversation was taking place before Covid.. Here’s two articles with citations and pretty pictures: https://www.fathomdelivers.com/perspectives/get-ahead-of-the-2025-higher-ed-enrollment-crisis/ https://www.cupahr.org/issue/feature/higher-ed-enrollment-cliff/ There are many other discussions about it, it’s been occurring for years. If your wife’s school really has been in the black with no concerns, it is the exception. regarding athletic departments: the 95% number was a rough guess based on some articles I read a while ago, but was actually pretty close, looks like it may be between 90% and 95% in Division I schools. My guess is that that number only goes up when you include Divisions II and III. http://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/athletics-departments-make-more-they-spend-still-minority “The expenses generated by operating athletics programs continued to exceed… Read more » Last edited 2 months ago by sven Coach Reply to sven 2 months ago No asked you to not stand by your post. All I asked is where you got the numbers from. You have great copy and paste skills. You must be proud. Icanfreezetime Reply to Coach 2 months ago Sharing info from my previous postings, here are more current financial filings: https://sports.usatoday.com/ncaa/finances Other databases are available but here’s a quick summary of 2018 Expenses/Revenues. It’s won’t be pretty after COVID. AAC 406.02M revenues 417.43M expenses C-USA$439.72M expenses
$433.54M revenues Pac12$1.057B Expenses
$1.012B Revenues Big 10$1.751B Expenses
$1.809B Revenues SEC$1.767B Expenses
$1.891B Revenues Last edited 2 months ago by Icanfreezetime Coach Reply to Icanfreezetime 2 months ago Another copy and paster. Read further, this is limited to operating revenue. There a tons of other revenue that sports generate not listed or included in the report. Thank you for your service. Icanfreezetime Reply to Coach 2 months ago If you bothered to read on and actually do some research, you will discover where the money comes from. Let me help you get started with Pac-12. NCAA/CONFERENCE DISTRIBUTIONS, MEDIA RIGHTS, AND POST-SEASON FOOTBALL$338,076,245

DONOR CONTRIBUTIONS
$192,069,913 TICKET SALES$163,396,836

$153,133,477 OTHER REVENUE$81,498,440

INSTITUTIONAL/GOVERNMENT SUPPORT
$53,114,642 STUDENT FEES$26,458,293

COMPETITION GUARANTEES
\$4,223,685

Coach
2 months ago

I did, again all these categories fall under operating expenses as the article describes.

sven