Study says student athlete mental health is linked to cancellation of sports

High school students are facing a lot of unknowns at the school year begins, and a hot topic on many of their minds, school sanctioned sports.  Local schools have yet to come to a determination on what is happening with those schedules.

Many local high schools are waiting on a decision from the WIAA.

“Starting practices on the dates that the WIAA has determined,” said Matt Schneider, Aquinas High School & Middle School Activities Director.

A University of Wisconsin survey taken in the early months of the pandemic, showed upwards of two thirds of student athletes reported symptoms of depression, and similar numbers for anxiety.

“We had baseline numbers comparator numbers available for depression and we know those numbers and they’re significantly worse compared to what they were pre-pandemic times,” said Claudia Reardon, UW School of Medicine and Public Health.

So the worry of mental health in student athletes is of concern to sports directors if the fall seasons end up canceled.

“To support them is no where near as good as if we are to offer sports,” said Schneider.

Those who conducted the study said there are ways to console and motivate a teen if their sport does not play come fall.

“Whatever we can do to help our kids maintain some sort of structure and schedule is so helpful. Now, I’m bias but importantly that structure should include exercise!” said Reardon.

Schneider said he would like to see coaches closing the gap too.

“Provide virtual workouts, and contact and keep up with their athletes that way,” said Schneider.

He said, we can’t forget how important sports can be for the development of kids.

“School may not come easy to them, and sports is just a good outlet for them to collaborate and work with other student athletes and work with other figures of authority,” said Schneider.

Schneider says that if the W-I-A-A does cancel the fall season, he hopes that they will plan for the fall sports to play in the spring.