No aerobics, no kick boxing, no Zumba. University sports, which for thousands of Potsdam students are just as much a part of the semester as lectures, term papers and exams, had to be stopped from one day to the next, as did all university operations. The director of the University Sports Center, Dr. Petra Bischoff-Krenzien, talks about the consequences of the complete shutdown, solidarity in times of crisis and ideas for the program in the next semester – with or despite corona.
The consequences of the corona pandemic are also affecting university sports. All events had to be canceled from one day to the next. How many courses, events and athletes are affected?
This concerns about 500 weekly courses with more than 5,500 participants. In addition, many weekend workshops and events had to be canceled on short notice, such as the Bouldercup and the Workout-Mix.
How are the athletes and trainers affected handling the situation? Is there an active exchange and feedback?
The athletes almost exclusively showed understanding for our necessary cancellation of courses. Our trainers also understand the suspension of the sports program, even though many of them are now lacking the additional financial income from running the classes. We work mainly with student instructors, for whom it is important to make a little extra money to cover their living expenses.
The suspension comes right in the middle of the course program offered between semesters. What happens with the fees paid for the courses?
We discussed the matter of how to deal with the overpaid course fees for a long time. In the end, a decision was made in favor of our participants, most of whom are students. On request we have refunded part of the course fees. We would like to take this opportunity to thank many university sports participants who waived their refunds in favor of the instructors. That helps a lot.
This is likely to have an economic effect on university sports. How are you dealing with this?
As you know, university sports are jointly organized by the University Sports Center and the Potsdam Association for the Advancement of University Sports. The Association has been hit very hard by the crisis. They had to apply for short-time work for all their employees. This is a situation that, only a few weeks ago, we could hardly have imagined in our wildest dreams and which is not exactly reassuring.
Despite everything, people are supposed to stay fit. Individual sports, jogging and cycling are among the few things that we are still expressly allowed and even encouraged to do. Alba Berlin managed to offer a digital sports activity program for young children within a very short period of time. Can Potsdam’s university sports help in this regard?
We are currently working hard to launch an online program for our university athletes. There will soon be offers for live courses as well as on-demand offers on our homepage. We receive support from our trainers in this regard, who have very creative ideas to keep up the connection to those that are active in sports.
The university currently intends to start teaching on April 20 via online teaching. What are the plans for the summer semester for university sports?
We will start off with an online program for the time being, as I mentioned. Depending on how contact restrictions are eased, it may also be possible to consider other offers that do not pose a health risk. Certainly, only low-contact sports activities, especially those outdoors with a small number of participants, will be the first to resume. It would be speculative at this point in time to specify a date when we will be able to return to our usual course schedule and offer beloved events again. For the time being, everyone will have to find alternative ways to exercise and keep fit. And university sports will be a reliable partner in this respect.
Where can sports enthusiasts find further information?
As usual, you can find all necessary information on our website. But we also use social media such as Facebook and Instagram to continuously report on our activities during this unreal time.