Valley athletes feel physical and emotional turmoil of pandemic


There are a lot of new protocols happening in school districts as safety guidelines are being implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19

SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we’re getting closer to the start of fall sports. It’s looking like a very different year for athletes across the Valley.

There are a lot of new protocols happening in school districts as safety guidelines are being implemented to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Some sports, school districts, or athletic conferences are requiring masks in common areas like the weight or locker rooms. Others are requiring that athletes get tested frequently for the virus before they play.

There are other not so new risks happening right now, too.

“A mask could be a big issue for them, so they have to remember to take their asthma medicines or what they call a rescue inhaler and have that on hand right away. It doesn’t make people more dehydrated, but people with underlying conditions such as asthma have to be aware of their breathing problems,’ said Dr. Mike Sevilla, a physician at the Family Practice Center of Salem.

Athletes may not be the whole way up to speed with their training and conditioning quite yet. Sevilla recommends athletes take it easy and then pick back up their pace. He says with the sports requiring a mask, athletes should be aware of any pre-existing respiratory conditions before going all out on the field.

Heatstroke is also a concern. Sevilla says it can creep up on athletes and cause a lot of problems if they are not drinking water.

The study also states that athletes have nearly 50 percent less physical activity than before the pandemic, causing a lot of sports-related injuries.

Another issue students athletes could be experiencing right now that may not be so obvious is the emotional impact.

A study out of the University of Wisconsin shows 2/3 of high school athletes are reporting some type of anxiety or depression as a result of the pandemic.

There could be many factors that play into this such as worrying about contracting the virus or giving it to a family member. Some may worry about playing or not playing for safety reasons.

Some doctors worry that student athletes might not tell anyone about potential COVID-19 symptoms in fear of not being able to play.

“People really have to be aware of those types of symptoms, the fever, the breathing problems more that usual. Just not feeling like themselves. When that happens, you have to tell your coach right away, and tell your parents right away because it could be something more severe than what you think,” Sevilla said.

If any of your kids are experiencing any type of symptom, doctors are urging you to keep them home so there’s no spread among their teammates and to potentially keep their others from playing, too.

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