This letter to the school board is reprinted with the writer’s permission.
Dear Scarsdale Board of Education,
My name is Lee. I am currently a senior at Scarsdale High School who is on the wrestling team. I am writing you this email because you need to allow us to wrestle.
Firstly, let me share my opinion. Wrestling is one of the most difficult and demanding sports that our school offers and perhaps even exists. During my freshman and sophomore years, I was promoted to wrestle on the varsity lineup. Weighing under 100 pounds, I got absolutely crushed every single match of the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. There were days where I came home covered in bruises, I came home too sore to walk, and even in a sling some days. To be perfectly honest, I will admit that there were times when I wondered to myself: “Do I really want to do this anymore?” After seeing about 80% of my school class quit the team, I almost walked away with them. But, I decided to take the road less traveled and, I can confidently say, it really did make all the difference. During my past years as a wrestler, I have matured immensely. Thanks to wrestling, I am mentally, physically and emotionally stronger. I now know how to push myself to do my best. In essence, wrestling has remarkably improved my life. By canceling our wrestling season, you will be taking away valuable lessons from all members of the team, freshmen to seniors.
In other words, it’s not about the sport itself, it’s about the beneficial effects that wrestling projects. Without this special brotherhood, you will be taking away crucial social relationships between people. Mental health quality will surely decrease and mental health issues will increase.
Secondly, let me share some statistics. Wrestling is not any higher of a risk [for spreading COVD-19] than basketball, football and other sports. For example, wrestling is between two people for a maximum of only six minutes, therefore the maximum possible transmission per match is only one [person]. In basketball if one infected player steps on the court, he puts all other nine players at risk through air transmission, ball contact, and player-to-player contact during fouls (the average is above 30 fouls per game), which lasts almost a full hour. During wrestling practice, we will be split into groups of 2-3. If one of these people tests positive, only their partners would have to quarantine as all other groups are further than 6 feet and wearing masks which prevents them from having to quarantine under DOH guidelines. In addition, masks are not choking hazards for wrestlers. Every match is closely monitored at all angles by a referee, who will call timeout at any apparent issue during the competition. In the news, there have been past wrestling tournaments which have spread COVID-19. However, none of these took place in New York where we happily practice safe protocols including social distancing, limited spectators, mandatory masks, and even a large tournament ban altogether.
As the board of education, it is your duty to make the right decision for us. All I ask is that you consider the pros and cons of this situation fairly, which include all factors of our lives, on and off the mat. Also, please keep in mind that this is time we will never get back in our lives. The worst thing is to look back and feel regret about the past.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Scarsdale High School, Class of 2021