Sports or Arts?

The Live Wire compares the changes with extracurriculars in this new school year.

Gabby+Brecht+and+her+friends+pose+for+the+camera+after+marching+in+a+2019+Liberty+football+game.

Courtesy of Gabby Brecht

Gabby Brecht and her friends pose for the camera after marching in a 2019 Liberty football game.

On August 28th, the Iowa City Community School District (ICCSD) put marching band on hold for the fall. On the other hand, sports paused for only three weeks starting September 8th. Some people may think that cancelling the art extracurriculars but continuing with sports is unfair.

Santiago Fajardo-Cassab, sophomore, gave his opinion on sports continuing, but art programs being shut down. 

I don’t think it’s at all fair cancelling marching band but continuing with contact sports, especially if it’s without masks. There are so many more ways to make band safe than contact sports. Currently in band, we use special playing masks that limit the amount of spit droplets that fly out as we play, as well as bell masks to stop droplets from flying out of the instrument. In contact sports, it’s much more difficult but it’s definitely possible to limit the spread of the virus, however masks should absolutely be required during games,” said Fajardo-Cassab.

Fajardo-Cassab also commented on why he thinks the district is making more sports centered decisions. 

“I personally think it ultimately comes down to prestige and revenue. The district can collect more money from sports games and sports [merchandise] rather than band and show choir. Then, there’s the prestige component, having the best sports teams makes the district and schools look better than if they just had the best band and show choir programs. Most people pay more attention to the sports component rather than band and show choir,” said Fajardo-Cassab. 

I expected to be committed by now, but many 2021 athletes are still frantically touring schools and talking to coaches. My mental health has definitely struggled, as there has been so much uncertainty about our futures.”

— Lauren Roman

On the other side of this, Lauren Roman, senior, expressed why it was necessary to continue playing volleyball. 

“Athletes all over the country had to take six months off of playing, which in turn stopped recruiting for six months. I expected to be committed by now, but many 2021 athletes are still frantically touring schools and talking to coaches. My mental health has definitely struggled, as there has been so much uncertainty about our futures,” said Roman

Roman also commented on how she feels safe playing volleyball during this time. 

“I personally feel safe playing volleyball this year. We wear masks for the majority of practice, track our symptoms, socially distance, etc. Many athletes are keeping their social circles incredibly small so we are able to continue our season,” she said. “I believe most student athletes are taking more precautions than they normally would since our seasons are on the line.” 

Scott Kibby, Liberty’s former principal and ICCSD’s Director of Secondary Ed, stated to The Gazette

“If we can find opportunities for small ensembles to perform, we will do so, because we know performing is what the kids want to do.”

He also reasoned that their cancellation of show choir was because of “numerous” competitions already being cancelled, and that it would not be a wise use of the district’s resources. Robert Williams, choir department, supported this statement.

“Funding is always a complicated thing in regard to show choir and other extracurricular activities and I’m not sure if I feel comfortable discussing the specifics of this, however, I will say that we made the choice to lower our show choir fee since there was no way to attend competitions which are typically where a large portion of our money is spent. We also didn’t want to be charging families a huge fee to participate during a time when many families are struggling to make ends meet,” said Williams.

Williams then said that all of the show choir competitions they were planning on attending were cancelled and that show choir was forced to come up with their own performance opportunities. He also said that show choir is continuing rehearsal and winter performances if school is still in the hybrid model.

Kibby also commented on how show choir will work this year. 

If we can find opportunities for small ensembles to perform, we will do so, because we know performing is what the kids want to do.”

— Scott Kibby

“Show choir is on, but not in its normal fashion. Just like the All State music festival that brings together schools from across the state [and is cancelled], large show choir invitationals around the state are cancelled because they don’t want to bring multiple schools to one site because of COVID,” Kibby explained.  “But our music teachers are working to provide a show choir experience for our kids.  Again, I know this is true at City and Liberty, but I haven’t talked to West High. The biggest difference with show choir this year is they’ll perform for our own families and community, either in person or virtually, and not be traveling to large competition. They may be adjusting costuming as well. “ 

Kibby said that although the normality of extracurriculars has been compromised, their goal is to provide students with experiences in all activities. To make sports safer, Kibby said the district set rules for the practices. Football players practice with masks on for most drills, excluding the more strenuous drills. Game regulations are sanctioned by the Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) and they did not mandate masks for games. Kibby says that players are still wearing masks some of the time, even though they don’t “have to”. When it comes to theater, Kibby said all three departments want to do something for the fall and spring 

“The fall [performance] sounded like they were going to put on small acts and perform them virtually. They’ll be able to use video tools to merge them together. The spring is musical season and they hope COVID is gone by then so they can do a real live musical as they have always done.  But time will tell whether they are able to perform live,” said Kibby.