ILH athletes face a choice: get the jab, or take a test

Senior+Aiden+Morris+takes+a+shot+on+goal+against+Iolani+defender.

Taro Tsuji

Senior Aiden Morris takes a shot on goal against Iolani defender.

By Staff Writer
Jackson Keenan

As of Sept. 24, 2021, athletes in football, competitive cheerleading and water polo had to decide whether to receive the COVID vaccination or get tested for COVID 24 hours before competition, according to the Interscholastic League of Honolulu.

“In order to play in competition every player must be fully vaccinated or negatively tested within 24 hours of each competition,” said Athletic Director Scott Wagner.

As fall sports start up the conversation about COVID vaccination requirements rages on.

“You should be able to play even if you’re not vaccinated, just that you should test before,” said varsity Pac 5 football player Daymian Lapitan.

Unlike the Department of Education, which is mandating that all athletes be vaccinated in order to play, the ILH allows everyone to play sports with or without the vaccine, creating a middle ground supported by most students.

However, some students think the test should not be mandatory.

“If you don’t have to test before school you shouldn’t have to test before sporting events. There are more people in school than at sporting events and we have to wear a mask,” said sophomore baseball player Keola Young.

Last year, sports like baseball, softball, and girls’ volleyball competed without a COVID vaccine or testing. Magnus, the health tracking app, was used to verify players had no symptoms. Even without the vaccine or testing there were no major COVID outbreaks.

“I think that Magnus is good enough because it’s been good enough for the past one and a half years so there hasn’t been any spread in the school,” said Young.

Besides the three sports, ILH hasn’t made a decision about other contact sports such as basketball, soccer, wrestling, judo and girls’ water polo. But, it is expected that they will receive the same protocol.

For athletes who have not gotten the vaccination, Mid-Pacific will provide a free antigen test 24 hours before competition so that all athletes will be able to compete whether vaccinated or not.

“I think it’s okay because it gives athletes the option even if they are not able to buy their own test two, three times a week,” said senior varsity PAC-5 cheerleader Nikki Fujii.

Although the COVID-19 tests are free, some unvaccinated people argue that Magnus Health is good enough.

The DOE disagrees, as they have now imposed a vaccine mandate on all athletes. This could have huge implications when it comes to ILH athletics, especially smaller teams such as PAC-5 football which only has 36 athletes.

“It definitely will negate the team because we have such small numbers and everyone really makes a difference,” said Lapitan.

Even though the conversation between vaccinated and unvaccinated stays red hot, teammates attempt to understand both sides of the argument and not let this COVID affected season split them apart.

“I’m kind of in between both sides. I mean the mandate is only to protect the athlete and coaches. But I also see the other side where people don’t want to be forced to have to put something in their body that they’re not too sure of and I feel like it’s important to be heard,” said Fujii.