The Positive Aspect of Sports in a Pandemic

Mental Health in Teen Athletes

Molly Oldread, Sports Editor

Mental health is an increasingly important issue in high school age teens. Often their extracurricular activities or their sports are an outlet for them. Sports provide a sense of normalcy that high schoolers need, especially right now.

Safety and health need to be a number one priority during these trying times and we all should be wearing masks and maintaining social distancing, as these are ways to try and ensure the health of you and those around you. However, mental health in schools can be often overlooked.  School opening has become a priority in many places, but opening up sporting events and activities is what balances the stress from school for many students.

Studies have shown that physical activity releases endorphins which can increase mood stability and relieve stress. 

Stress levels in teens have increased in students due to online schooling and the ongoing worry of you or your loved ones getting sick.  While playing sports and being around more people is more of a risk than staying home, after waiting for so long for lives to go back to normal the risk may be worth it.

With the consideration of guidelines and the concern of players getting sick precautions must be taken.  Hopefully, if changes are made to the games’ rules and masks are worn sports can be played without any more Covid outbreaks.

Without sports teens’ stress levels increase and they may not have an outlet away from school or quarantine. 

Researchers and doctors all over the world have studies that prove how sports can help teens’ mental health in the long run of their lives.

“If a child is struggling with emotional regulation or interacting with others, Dr. Austerman said the structured setting of team sports helps create a safe environment to learn important social skills. And learning these skills in childhood can lead to more positive experiences in the future,” reports a study from the Cleveland Clinic for Children.

Minnechaug athletics director Michael Roy gave all fall athletes a survey to question how they felt about the COVID-19 friendly sports program. 

“The ‘results’ are all statements, so it’s not a simple pie chart, but I did read every response to every question and what I can say is that not one person said they didn’t feel safe.  In fact, they all said that protocols were followed, they felt safe and they all said how important it was to have sports so that they have interaction beyond Zoom and school,” Roy said.

Sports may not be the same in the pandemic. Players have to maintain distance and wear masks. Fans are either not allowed or very limited. Seasons are cut short and playoffs have not been taking place. Seniors lose the joy of their last season and Covid friendly senior nights just are not the same. 

While sacrifices have to be made for the sports seasons they may be worth it so these student-athletes can have some stress relief and a new focus after the stress of school and the pandemic.

Students deserve to feel safe and enjoy themselves, especially during the challenges this past year has brought. As long as guidelines are followed and protocols are put in place, athletic activities should take place at Minnechaug.