The University of Toronto’s Student Newspaper Since 1880

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Reviewing the sports section in a year without games

A letter from the editors
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COVID-19 sports coverage wasn’t easy. WENDY WEI/THE VARSITY
COVID-19 sports coverage wasn’t easy. WENDY WEI/THE VARSITY

On the anatomy of a COVID-19 sports section

This year was a challenge for the sports section: the cancellation of Ontario University Athletics sports threw a wrench into what used to be consistent content in the form of exciting game recaps and university-athletic news. 

Just as athletes have had to mourn their seasons’ abrupt endings, we ardent Blues fans at The Varsity have had to lament the indefinite suspension of our school’s games and our game coverage. We had to get creative.

Instead of diving deep into statistics and plays, we decided instead to dive into the stories of the athletes who populate not only the Varsity Blues rosters, but also the classrooms that we used to sit in. Players from football teams, soccer teams, basketball teams, and more were profiled in depth this year. 

As an editor, I realized through these pieces that athletics extend beyond the field: the cultural and emotional impact that sport has — not only on its players but its fans — is not something that disappears overnight, and it gives us hope for a sport-filled future.

This year, we were also met with the pandemic’s accompanying mental health crisis, and we were faced with covering not only how to maintain physical health but mental wellness as well. This type of content was, and is, more important and relevant than ever before. 

Covering everything from mindfulness, to yoga, stress management techniques, and the intersection of physical and mental health, we placed an emphasis on becoming a source of reliable and helpful information for students who were struggling to find coping mechanisms amidst a jam-packed semester and pandemic isolation. 

Although we covered news and professional sport as well, we hope that our section this year provided you with faith in the resilience of university athletics, a newfound appreciation for our very own student athletes, and excitement for a future full of games at the Varsity Centre. Thank you so much for letting us write for you! 

— Laura Ashwood 

Sports Editor, Volume CXLI

On this year’s intersection of politics and sports 

The past year has been turbulent to say the least — and the world of sports definitely served as a window into the cultural bubble that was 2020. COVID-19 itself greatly influenced sports both on and off the field — but so did politics, with the Black Lives Matter movement’s intersection with sports being perhaps the most identifiable example. 

In the wake of the unjust deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among an unfortunate and tragically long list, as well as the unjust shooting of Jacob Blake, athletes spoke out and took action both on and off the court. 

Part of my Sikh upbringing was to always speak up for those who are oppressed and require assistance — and I felt it was necessary to cover these protests for The Varsity, not just because they were huge stories in sports, but because these stories have had massive implications for our cultural fabric.

Recently, I was also able to discuss another important topic in the world of sports — the appropriation of Indigenous cultures. Learning about how long these beautiful cultures have been used for profit — which has been going into the pockets of people who feel nothing but contempt for the struggles of Indigenous peoples — made me deeply upset.

Politics and sports are not mutually exclusive. They have been connected for decades. In the future, I believe it is of the utmost importance that The Varsity continues to cover the intersection of politics and sports — through all the difficult conversations and tragedies. The afflicted communities deserve to have their voices heard on all platforms, and I hope to continue elevating their voices as a member of The Varsity.

— Angad Deol

Associate Sports Editor, Volume CXLI