Sports shouldn’t overshadow theater during pandemic

Specific focus adds to the social ranking

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Lilly Strathman

There has always been this unspoken hierarchy between sports and theater. Labeling people as “weird” or “lame” because they choose the fall musical over playing football is unacceptable. The reactions to the regulations put in place by Gov. Tim Walz during COVID-19 have reiterated this ridiculous mindset. 

As thespian president, I want to be able to help make theater the best it can be this year. There is no question that our director, Jodi Schifsky, has done an amazing job given the circumstances. Although coaches are persevering through their restricting regulations, they have been given more opportunities than directors have. Even with that, students still feel the need to fight for sports without regarding theater as an important club. 

There have been many posts on social media by student-athletes and supporters advocating for spectators in the stands even though they were granted the opportunity to get to play their sport. We ended up having to film our show, “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play,” over Zoom. Having an audience wasn’t even in my mindset, but the idea of getting to film the show in our auditorium, and on our stage was in close reach. The fact that we got that opportunity taken away, yet most students were solely complaining about how they wouldn’t be able to have spectators while they played, highlighted the lack of importance of theater in students’ lives.

Although theater is something that occurs inside, where the spread of COVID-19 is higher, so does sports such as volleyball and basketball but they were able to play. Shows can be altered to limit the amount of cast members, and the different aspects that come with making a show can be divided so there would be a limit to the amount of people in the auditorium. During “Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play,” there were 10 members in the cast. There is never a point in the show where all 10 would appear on stage. This is incomparable to the 19 on the boys basketball team or the 53 on the football team.

I had a conversation with a friend who plays sports, and we talked about how it’s good for the athlete’s mental health to get back to playing their sports during the pandemic. Throughout the conversation, all I could think about was all the students involved in theater at Park who aren’t allowed to express their creative outlet like they are used to, damaging their mental health. Athletes got to break up their constant screen time by going to practice, whereas rehearsal, unfortunately, had to occur on the computer screen, hindering creativity and making it hard to break up the day. 

COVID-19 is serious, but if Park has decided sports are with the risk, theater should be included in that decision. By not allowing theater but allowing sports, Park is actively contributing to the extracurricular social hierarchy that values sports over creative arts.” It makes sports come across as more important than other clubs, such as theater which parallels the social scene at school.