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The impact of school closures and sports cancellations on athletes

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coronavirus-sports impact

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) - The impact of the Coronavirus on students and the loss of athletics isn't going unnoticed.

In partnership with the WIAA, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health say you may be surprised by what they've found.

High school athletics serve an important role in shaping the lives of young people, so when COVID-19 shut down schools and athletics, researchers were quick to analyze.

"We had 3,200 plus high school athletes complete the study for us," said renowned sports medicine doctor and researcher Tim McGuine.

Data collected over the last five years helped provide a baseline for the new discoveries.

The new survey measured mental health, physical activity, and quality of life.

The results are jarring.

"The anxiety scores were pretty high. They were over nine which is a pretty big issue," said Dr. McGuine.

In their research, which was conducted in May 2020, they found that physical activity was down 50% and depression and anxiety skyrocketed. Two of every three kids reported anxiety symptoms.

"If they score five or above, we would want them to get medical intervention. Well, 65 percent of the kids did report a score of five or above," added Dr. McGuine.

Moderate to severe depression was 3.5 times higher in the month of May than the baseline five years of data.

With this data, it poses the question: What's more of a risk? Kids in contact with the virus, or missing school and athletics?

"We're doing our best to minimize risk to all of these kids and athletes and our community, but also recognizing that there is risk to not being in school, there's risk to not playing sports," said chairperson of the WIAA Sport Medical Advisory Committee Dr. Kevin Walter.

After concluding their findings, researches say public health experts and school administrators need to consider the benefits and risks of prolonged school closures.

There are plans in place for a follow-up study that would look at how re-openings impact the health of athletes.

Below is the conducted study.

Declan Levy

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