Sport and the COVID Crisis: To Play or Not to Play
Like many people out there, COVID-19 has affected my business directly. There's no secret to that. Without sports events occurring, there is inevitably the perception that mental performance is less important. Now I don't say this to create some sort of sob story, because there are many who stand at the front lines and feel the impact much more than most: the young athletes.
Current athletes have had to deal with continuous cancellations, postponements, and utter confusion about when their seasons will take place and what they will look like. A recent survey of high school athletes across the nation found that 68% of the 3,243 athletes surveyed reported feelings of anxiety and depression (UW Health, 2020). These aren't simply just a one-time feeling of anxiety or depression, but feelings that would typically require a medical intervention. That's over two-thirds of the athletes surveyed and 37% more than any other past research study, and it's all related to the uncontrollable circumstances just mentioned! Not only is that shocking, but it argues for something that people have been trying to make known for decades: sports add value to a young person's life. Spectators, parents, and those who study sport and performance will be just fine, but this research shows that young athletes have been affected.
I don't want to stir up the controversy of whether or not sports should be played, or even that your child should be in sports at all. There are plenty of opinions out there and I don't want to get caught up in who is right and who is wrong because I probably have a good amount of bias myself. If you're reading this and assuming that I don't care for the safety of young athletes, you're absolutely wrong. The national debate goes far beyond sports and into schools, workplaces, masks, and a lot of areas that I won't take the time to explore here. What I will say is that, when we are allowed to return world that includes sport at its full capacity, can we please not take it for granted? Let your young kids sample sports at a young age and let them devote time to getting better. Devote time and attention to their development in athletics. It is a short pursuit in the grand scheme, but it evidently comes with great reward. And lastly, let's all be understanding of the fact that people struggle, athletes included, and we have to do what we can to walk them through life's obstacles.
University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. (2020). More Than Two-Thirds of High School Athletes Report Anxiety and Depression Since Pandemic. https://www.uwhealth.org/news/more-than-two-thirds-of-high-school-athletes-report-anxiety-and-depression-since-pandemic/53429.