Covid and Sports
Covid has thrown a curve ball at many high school athletes, whether they are looking to get recruited or just enjoy playing. Seniors last year lost their final season for spring sports, and many juniors lost crucial playing time for recruitment and improvement. Sports are also an important social activity for many kids. For younger kids, sports help develop social skills, while for older kids, research shows that participating in sports reduces stress and helps manage anxiety and depression. However, safety is the priority for so many schools, and many sports include lots of contact.
The solution? States and schools have approved some fall sports, but have pushed back others, like football, swimming, and volleyball. Fall sports in New York require a mask for all practice and games, which unfortunately can impact performance, especially in a sport like cross country.
In many other states, rules are less strict, and athletes can have a more normal season. The varying rules create an unfair advantage for certain athletes trying to get recruited. Take football, for example: in many southern states, the season is going on as if it would with no pandemic. Any football player from New York trying to get an athletic scholarship has no fall season and the fall season in late winter/early spring that they do have could be cancelled. The season is already shortened, and if a player gets COVID, the season is cut short for them or the team.
The lack of scouting at games and tournaments has also been detrimental for athletes trying to get on colleges’ radars. Now, these athletes have no way to be discovered and are at a loss on what to do next; for many kids, sports are a unique opportunity for them to go to college.
It seems to make sense that the recent rise in cases can be linked to kids going back to school, despite safety measures. With sports comes body contact and mixing with other schools, and many have questioned whether schools should put students at greater risk than they already face by returning to the classroom. However, a recent study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that high school sports have not increased the rate of infection among athletes. The study surveyed 207 high schools in Wisconsin, which included more than 30,000 athletes. In the month of September, 271 athletes got sick, and of the 271, 209 knew how they got it. Only one athlete got it from a sports related event. As of now, the research shows that sports are generally safe and not as big of a risk as one might think. However, it is important to note that the survey only included Wisconsin schools, so the results are somewhat skewed.
At Edgemont there is a strict mask policy for all sports in practice and at games. For some athletes, it has been hard to adapt to the mask, even if everyone has become used to wearing a mask in class, in the grocery store, or simply in the great outdoors.. Wearing a mask while running across a field for the ball at full speed isn’t ideal, but the mask is necessary.
As of now, no athletes at Edgemont have contracted COVID from sports, and every team has been able to finish their season. The athletes and coaches here have done an excellent job of keeping up with guidelines while also providing spaces for athletes if they are having trouble breathing and need to step away. It has been hard for many athletes to miss their season, or to have it cut short. Luckily, with many schools following covid guidelines, many athletes have been able to participate in sports and return to some sense of normalcy.