Study shows depression up in student athletes due to canceled sports

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- School closures and a lack of sports are having a significant negative impact on the health of student athletes across the state.

Over Zoom video, members of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) Sport Medical Advisory Committee informed school districts and coaches on findings of a statewide study.

“There is risk to not being in school. There is risk to not playing sports,” said Dr. Kevin Walter, chairperson of the committee.

According to a statewide study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, high school athletes are experiencing higher anxiety and depression, and lower physical activity and quality of life.

“In the long-term, these disorders can become chronic. They influence whether these individuals go on to college and develop a meaningful career,” said Dr. Tim McGuine.

Data was collected through a questionnaire in more than 70 counties. The study was conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. However, researchers admit there are multiple factors including social and economic impacts on family.  “I think we need to be aware that there’s benefits and risks by continuing these cancellations,” Dr. McGuine said.

The WIAA says they will continue to have discussions about the fall semester.

“Practice will be different, it won’t look like it has in years past because there will need to be hygiene, disinfecting, some social distance, potentially practicing in pods, ideally, coaches wearing masks,” Dr. Walter said.

As for the fall sports season, the WIAA is leaving that up to districts instead of making a statewide decision. They also plan to conduct a follow-up study.

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