Winter Sports: Another Casualty of 2020 and it Looks Like High School Athletes will be the ones to Suffer


Sarah Hamilton, Contributing Writer

COVID-19 has impacted the scheduling of high school sports this year across the United States. The winter sports, which include more high-risk sports than low-risk sports, have been pushed back for the second time this season.


According to The Times Union, since fall season 2 practices have been postponed until March 1st, leaving only six weeks or fewer for the high-risk winter sports. The Winter State Championships have also been cancelled for the safety of travelling teams and the challenging overnight accommodations, further shortening the seasons.


Unfortunately, all the delaying and cancelling of high school sports is having an impact on student athletes. Senior athletes are finding that they are missing out on important milestones as well as college opportunities. As a whole, student athletes are facing social and emotional challenges that they have never faced before. 


The winter sports season getting pushed back has had an impact on seniors who were looking forward to having their seasons on time this school year. Many of them have looked forward to their senior seasons, Senior Nights, and the experience of their final season with their team. According to the NYSPHSAA, the chance of the high-risk winter sports happening this year has decreased because of COVID-19 currently increasing in New York State. Angelina Schaefer, a senior on the Shaker Varsity Girls Basketball team, commented on how the basketball season getting pushed back impacted athletes and seniors. I asked her how the COVID-19 situation with sports has affected her as a senior, and how she has been staying in shape during the off-season. 


“I’m very disappointed that winter sports are being pushed back again, but it was kind of expected especially because we aren’t going to school right now, so it would be unlikely for us to travel… It definitely has affected my senior year because all of us have been working towards this since like 7th grade, we all, ya know worked really hard so we could be in the position where we were at, but it gets taken away it really, really sucks because everyone was really looking forward to it,” said Schaefer. When asked what she did to stay in shape over the off-season, she said, “I went to open gyms and I went to a few AAU workouts with my AAU coach.”


As a whole, the cancelation of high school sports has had an even broader impact on student-athletes’ social-emotional health. An article by Evolve, a treatment center in California for teens, reported that they surveyed high school student-athletes to find out how COVID-19 and the delay of high school sports have impacted their mental health. The survey showed that 52.2% of the athletes felt isolated or disconnected, 60.9% of them had a lack of initiative or apathy, and 75.7% think the situation is tough to deal with. The evidence is clear that canceling sports has a profound effect on high school students and their mental health. Sports are very important to some athletes. It’s a major focus in their life.  Sports are where they find success and have new opportunities. Without these experiences, it might cause the athletes to have a lack of drive and apathy. Nearly all of the athletes’ surveys by Evolve stated that the loss of athletics in school was a very difficult situation to deal with. Many high school athletes, especially those in New York, experience a lot of indecision and unknowns in regards to their high school season. The back and forth is also a major impact on their overall mental health. 


The determination of whether or not high-risk sports will happen this year is still up in the air. If the high-risk winter sports seasons were to happen, it was proposed that they would likely start this coming spring, in fall season 2, or at the start of the usual spring sports starting date. With COVID-19 spreading again in New York with a recent 5.44% positivity rate, sports are risky because of the likeliness for them to spread COVID-19. If the infection rate continues the high-risk winter sports may not be able to happen.


The high-risk high school winter sports season getting pushed back once again is disappointing for many athletes and coaches, but with the COVID-19 vaccine starting to be distributed, the season still has a possibility of happening and would create more great sports memories for the athletes and coaches on these teams.