The Pandemic’s Effects on Student Athletes

Mia Camey, Reporter

Many students who play a sport after school have been affected by Covid-19. There are kids who go home after school and start their homework right away but once they’re done with their homework they do nothing. They go on social media (TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, Netflix, etc.) and don’t think about trying to keep in shape for when sports will begin. There are others who do try to keep in shape and go to the gym, or to their local high school field. Having no sports has affected students both physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Sophomore Nicole Lupercio plays volleyball and basketball Lupercio said, ¨Covid-19 has affected me playing volleyball and basketball because it’s something I really enjoy doing and it’s something that kept me occupied during the year and helped me to release my stress. Now that sports aren’t going on my routine is to just finish my homework after school hours are over, go for a run around my neighborhood or workout in my basement, then take a shower and finally watchNetflix or reorganize my room till I go to sleep. I’m starting to go on runs and working out to stay fit since there’s no sports. I miss that I used to have something to do after school that I enjoyed doing, I also miss the excitement and adrenaline I would get in the games, and lastly I miss when the crowd and my teammates/coaches would cheer on for me when I would do a good play or a nice shot.¨

Another sophomore, Liam Sutton plays football and lacrosse. Sutton said, ¨ Covid affected me because it gave me a lot of downtime to not play sports so I wasn’t practicing as much and I forgot a few skills that I need to work on again. I have a lot more time at home so I try practicing and just playing around with my brother sometimes. I also have more time to do homework so I usually begin by doing that, but other than that I have a lot of downtime so I use social media and things like that. What I miss about playing is having a team to have fun with and make a ton of memories with.¨

There are lots of athletes, including high school students and college seniors, experiencing a sense of loss and indignation. High school kids are impacted in a multitude of ways because they´re undergoing hormonal changes and they use sports as a way to help reduce stress and control anxiety and depression. All sports impact children. 

Contacts sports such as football, wrestling and even basketball would have to return later since they can’t socially distance themselves while practicing and playing.

A study completed by physicians, child experts and researchers UW Health and the University of Wisconsin school of Medicine and Public Health, found that 68% of 3,243 student-athletes surveyed reported feelings of anxiety and depression. They were at levels that would typically require medical intervention. The studies reported that physical activity levels were 50% lower than they were for kids previous to the pandemic. An athletic director from a Catholic High School, Lyndsey Boyce, was not surprised by the results. She’s seen personally how no sports has affected athletes. Boyce said, ¨I’ve no doubt seen a huge difference in the overall mental health and demeanor of these kids since ( Covid-19 ) started. They are out of shape physically and emotionally, and hanging by a thread spiritually. If we´re not just concerned about the mental health of these student-athletes as we are about Covid, then shame on us.¨

For many high school athletes, their sport can be their identity. If you take their identity away, dangerous patterns could settle in. In Indiana nearly 850 high schools had participated in a study that was made by Timothy McGuine of the University of Wisconsin analyzing the effect of school closures and sports cancellations on mental health. The results from the study had shown 36% of those surveyed had reported moderate or severe anxiety and 65% had reported symptoms of depression. High school athletes’ anxieties about Covid-19 can be different than adults experience but it does not make them less valid.  

Athletic Director Drew Walker said, “Covid-19 has affected everyone and has taken us out of routines and has limited our contact with people socially and emotionally. This has affected everyone menatlly and physically. I see after school activities and athletics as an important outlet for students and teachers/coaches. I think we all feel a little uneasy and unsure in dealing with the restrictions we have been under and miss things that we have done in the past. I do feel the student-athletes miss playing athletics and are discouraged. Especially the seniors and those that have goals to play at the college level.. I am hoping that we are able to play all of our seasons starting on January 4, 2021 and kids, fans, and parents get the opportunity to have an athletic experience and outlet for their mental and physical well being.”

Walker also said, “We always have to be mindful that the health and safety of everyone is important and we need to keep doing our part in wearing a mask and keeping our distance to help us recover faster from this epidemic and open up more opportunities for us all. We are only three days into our after school fall training programs, but kids have reported that they have enjoyed being outside with their classmates/teammates and coaches. I think the social connection and physical training/exercise will be fun and help reduce stress and mental well being.”