Not the First Time Without Gustie Athletics

This year echoes those of nearly 80 years ago.
Posted on August 26th, 2020 by

In this photo, Gustie head football coach Tuddie Lindenberg bids farewell to the Gustavus enlisted Naval servicemen during the 1944 season. That season featured seven non-conference games. Once the servicemen returned to campus after World War II, Coach Tuddie led the 1945 Gusties to the MIAC championship with a perfect 4-0 MIAC record (6-0 overall).

In July, the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s fall sports until spring, except for golf and tennis (which are considered low-risk and will play conference-only schedules).

A fall with few conference sports is not exactly unprecedented, though. There was also an absence of intercollegiate athletics during World War II.

It’s hard to compare firearms to facemasks, but let’s take a shot at it. Back then, we were battling a global war. Today, we combat a global pandemic. During the 1940s, there were less than a dozen Gustie teams participating in intercollegiate competition. Today, the cancellation and postponement of sports affects all but six of Gustavus’s 23 varsity teams. During WWII, Gustavus athletic teams still competed in exhibition games with the students who remained on campus. This fall, even intramurals are a no-go, unless, like golf and tennis, they can be played in a socially distant way.

The best approach here is one that channels our indomitable Gustie spirit, one of optimism. Imagine a football game at Hollingsworth Field on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in April. Imagine a spring season with twice as many athletic options. Want to watch volleyball and softball on the same day? That may well be our unprecedented reality.

Gustavus prides itself on equipping students to lead purposeful lives and act on the great challenges of our time. Right now, we face a great challenge, just as Gustie athletes did during the first half of the 1940s. How we react will shape our future.

In the meantime, what are traditionally fall sports will continue to practice this fall, preparing for spring victories and waiting for competition season to begin.

 

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