Mental health of athletes during the pandemic

in Sports by
Senior Ernest Muirhead pressures the opposition’s defense looking for a turnover. (Photo/Kolby Fleming)

Although sports are slowly making a comeback, the initial lockdown period in March had a massive impact on athletes’ seasons during that time. Youth sports came to a complete halt, barring many young athletes from showcasing their talents on the fields, courts and tracks. With the pandemic preventing them from pursuing the sport as a stress reliever for personal issues and schoolwork, in addition to taking away collegiate and professional opportunities from athletes as well, athletes’ mental health has seen a decline. 

For all athletes who enjoy their sport, playing it is like a breath of fresh air after drowning from an abundance of schoolwork and personal problems. Whether it be a two hour football practice window everyday after school or a 90 minute soccer match during the weekend, sports offer athletes a chance to detach from reality and express themselves through individual talent. 

“Sports provide me with something that I can use to take my mind off things,” junior Jaeden Kinlock, a linebacker on the football team with offers from competitive Division One colleges like Princeton University and University of Pennsylvania, said. “If I’m ever stressed or upset, I just go workout. It doesn’t even have to be a killer workout, literally just something to get out the house while bettering yourself as a person at the same time both mentally and physically.” 

With quarantine putting a halt to sports like football, many athletes like Kinlock have had one less source of major stress relief during the initial lockdown, taking a toll on their mental health.

In addition to it being a stress reliever, sports acts as a pipeline for young athletes to get a tertiary education and, for some, a possible career path. Essentially, the cancelling of sports seasons has cast doubts on many athletes’ who bank on sports for their future, instilling anxiety into them. 

“You know, we don’t play for the crowds or the hype, those are just pluses,” senior soccer striker Ernest Muirhead said. “I play for my future, this is how I’m getting to college.”

Athletes rely on their respective sports on scholarship offers for their education and in other cases the opportunity to get a trial with a professional team, and to have these chances disappear without a trace has devastated high school athletes among multiple sports, all due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Athletes across all sports had probable reason to be feeling depressed over the initial lockdown period. Stress relievers that they were passionate about were suddenly taken away from them, and their tickets to college and possible future jobs have been called into question. It’s a turbulent time for student athletes.

Joseph Richards is 17 years old, and this is his first time being part of the journalism team. Born in Jamaica, Joseph lived most of his life there (13 years) until he moved to Parkland, Florida in 2016, where he would then start attending American Heritage. Joseph plays soccer competitively both for a club (Miramar United) as well as for the school varsity team. As far as his hobbies go, Joseph enjoys playing video games, writing in his journal and watching YouTube.

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