My Opinion – Signs of Normalcy

Returning to normal

Optimism from a tried-and-true pessimist. That would be the best way to describe my feelings when I went online recently to see what was happening in the world of adaptive sports and recreation.

A quick search of calendars from various wheeling sports organizations that had events canceled last year and beyond because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic shows they’re moving forward with full schedules.

Elsewhere, it’s a great sign to see some big adaptive sports events taking place in person again. The Move United Junior Nationals took place in July in the Denver area, the National Veterans Wheelchair Games (NVWG) ended Aug. 14 in New York and the Summer Paralympic Games in Tokyo end Sept. 5.

I attended the NVWG in the Big Apple, and although the event was a bit different, it still took place. This hybrid version of the 40th Games offered both in-person and at-home competition. Hybrid events like the NVWG have been helpful during the pandemic, but I hope they don’t continue as the only option heading into the fall.

I’m happy to see the return of in-person competition, but I want us to embrace what’s been learned through this experience and retain the increased options for participation. The forced change into the virtual world for many events allowed people to participate who otherwise would have been unwilling or unable to attend in the traditional format, pandemic or not.

SPORTS ’N SPOKES Web Content Manager Christopher Di Virgilio was boots on the ground at the Junior Nationals, and all it takes is one look at the photos he took to see the pure joy in this return to in-person competition. I encourage you to go to the SPORTS ’N SPOKES Facebook page and the sportsnspokes.com to view photos from the event.

One of the highlights during the Junior Nationals is the presentation of the SPORTS ’N SPOKES Junior Athlete of the Year. Christopher has had the honor and pleasure of presenting this award for several years and was thrilled to do it in person in Colorado this year. The 2021 recipient is Zachary Carter from Monahans, Texas. You’ll find more about Zach and more from the Junior Nationals elsewhere in this month’s issue.

As events like the Junior Nationals and NVWG help us get back to a better sense of normal, you may have heightened concerns for your personal safety when attending large sporting events like those. I’m not just talking about COVID-19, but the much broader spectrum of potential issues that may arise, such as a fire or natural disaster.

September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and you’ll find a great article in this issue highlighting some things you need to keep in mind. We spoke with the organizing bodies for some of the larger events to find out steps they take regarding safety and tips they may have for you, the athlete.

Keep smiling, and I hope fall brings a safe return to some sense of normality.

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