OPINION: USF sport clubs suspension is good for more than just the health of athletes

All over the country and at USF, sports club practices as well as fall and spring competitions have been suspended until further notice as an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19. While many students in these clubs are upset that other schools have already resumed practice, they should be looking at the situation as an opportunity for growth.

During the spring semester, USF sport clubs competitions were put on indefinite pause to protect the health and safety of participants and officials, according to USF’s Recreation and Wellness website. This suspension is a sign that USF is taking the health of its students seriously and could be good for sport clubs in the long run.

Some students not only support the spring sports competition suspension but also see the situation as an opportunity. USF student and Club Golf at USF President Jacob Lacour said the sports suspension at USF will be good for more than just the health of students.

“[The suspension] has really given Club Golf the chance to use our allocated budget on equipment that we wouldn’t normally be able to get,” he said in an email to The Oracle. “With the money we’re saving on not going to tournaments and paying conference dues, we have been able to buy golf balls, tees, gloves, rangefinders and other training aids that will be helpful for our development as a club.”

Club Golf’s yearly budget allocated from USF increased from $10,500 to over $13,000 this year to support its current membership of roughly 130 students. The club expected to use roughly $11,240 of its budget for competition registration costs this year, according to Club Golf Financial Officer Andrew Whitaker, but he said those funds will now be used to upgrade the club’s equipment for future members.

However, some students, including President of the Men’s Lacrosse Club and Chairperson for the Sports Club Council Brendan Fritz, aren’t sure why USF sport clubs aren’t resuming competitions or getting back to practicing.

USF is now one of the only schools in the state not allowing any in-person interaction still,” Fritz said in an email to The Oracle. “We are now one of the only few teams left who is still unable to practice at all, with our season quickly approaching. … Safety is obviously extremely important, but in reality, being able to play on these sport clubs teams can still be done in a safe manner.”

Fritz said the club spends anywhere from $6,000 to $10,000 every season on tournament fees, but less than one-third of those costs are funded by USF.

While USF said its actions are in the best interests of students, it should be more open to communication about the ongoing situation. Most other major universities have started to allow student sports clubs to start practicing again, but USF’s decision to keep them on hold is likely deliberate. Out of most other large universities, it is true that USF has extremely low numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

USF’s success in preventing the spread of COVID-19 has been better than many other major state universities. With over 50,000 students in attendance, the university is boasting an extremely low number of positive cases with just 509 since Aug. 24, according to the coronavirus updates page on USF’s website.

Some other Florida universities aren’t doing so well. UF and UCF, universities that have started to allow sport clubs to resume practices, have similar student enrollment numbers, but are clocking in over 3,500 and 1,500 positive cases, respectively. Even FSU, with a smaller total enrollment than USF, has more than tripled our positive cases at over 1,600 cases.

USF is doing a good job at preventing the spread of COVID-19 compared to other Florida universities, and their hard-handed decision to suspend USF sports clubs is part of it. The university should keep doing what it’s doing and encourage clubs to make the most of the situation by utilizing its freed-up budget to strengthen the club for future club members.