COVID-19 continues to impact student athletes as on campus classes and games resume

Student-athletes have had a delay in their success this past year due to the rise and impact of COVID-19 throughout the year causing lockdowns in certain cities and businesses shutting down to protect everyone’s health.

Photo by CSUSB Athletics

Since the introduction of COVID-19, the majority of our local restaurants, schools, and businesses have been negatively affected. With the rapid rise in numbers of those being affected by COVID-19, the government limited the number of businesses and activities that the communities are allowed to participate in to protect our health. 

One major downfall college athletes faced and are continuing to deal with this year is the decrease in access to gyms, events, and each other. This is affecting players everywhere because one may not have access to the things one may need to be successful in this upcoming season. The average college athlete should have at least one vigorous or regular workout a day throughout the week to maintain a healthy body composure. With the limited access, those have received to gyms and training facilities. It could be difficult to consistently endure doing the things they need to be doing to improve their skill and athletic ability.

In addition to having limited access to gyms and training facilities and its effect on student-athletes. Students and players should try their best to refrain from contact with big groups, and keep to themselves to avoid contracting COVID-19. 

This could have a grand effect on a team’s daily routine and could affect the way they synchronize and play as a team. In addition, schools do not have funds for COVID-19 testing to be able to provide for all student-athletes to get tested daily or every week. A lot of Cal State schools do not have the funds like the USC’s and the UCLA’s of the world, their budgets are a lot less than those big universities have. A big delay in why there was no season for the year 2020-21 because of the risk of the spread of COVID-19 and the school not being able to provide testing for all student-athletes. That extra money is used in other aspects to support athletics and could not cover those other aspects and help with getting all athletes COVID-19 tests taken care of daily or weekly. It was just simply too much for Cal State schools to be able to afford this each week.

From having busy schedules to having a lot of free time due to COVID-19, student athletes’ mental health has taken a toll especially without being able to play games or practice. Participation in organized sports has been linked to academic achievement and psychological benefits for most student-athletes, leading to increased happiness, stress alleviation, and a lower risk of depression and anxiety. Many student-athletes may feel deprived of this much-needed outlet. Which is a fundamental component of their personal and athletic identities, as a result of COVID-19 regulations eliminating intercollegiate athletics.

In addition to the direct effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on student-athletes, the loss of many good factors that come with participation in team sports may have an indirect impact on their emotional, social, and physical health. The four main negative impacts on the mental health of student-athletes were concerns about academic progress. Switching from in-person to all online classes. Financial problems as resources were limited due to the pandemic. Having worries about the virus and how long it will affect the student athlete’s life. Lastly, lack of accessibility to play competitive sports. 

For high-performing student-athletes, the COVID-19 pandemic is a difficult moment. During this time, the vast majority of athletes have had crucial events or meets canceled or postponed. More than half of the players continue to receive virtual training from their club and trainers, despite having significantly reduced training hours. Isolation, worry, despair, and frustration are all common sentiments among student-athletes, while many have discovered successful ways to manage the pandemic. Concerns about losing fitness at this time and the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on their following season were the most common worries among athletes. The bulk of the athletes, however, intend to resume training once social distancing rules are lifted, and they are certain that they will be able to return to their prior strength and technical level following the pandemic.

In the Fall of 2021 classes were online at CSUSB and there was a protocol to be able to come to practice and after. Players had to walk in and out of certain doors and wash their hands each time they left the arena and had to wear masks during practice along with sitting six feet apart during practice breaks along with weekly COVID-19 testing. Eventually, everyone was required to get the vaccine to be able to come back on campus for classes and to be able to play their sport. Getting into the basketball season here at CSUSB at the beginning of the season in November and December players and coaches who were on the sidelines were required to wear masks at all times as a safety protocol. Along with that, there were no spectators allowed at games for certain teams in the CCAA conference for the safety of the teams. Throughout the basketball season, the team was very cautious about what they did and day out and the coaches reminded the players to keep their bubble-tight and not be around people they should not be around for safety. 

Going into Spring 2022, as the basketball season continued, the men’s basketball team had 10 games lined up against conference opponents both home and away games starting in January after Christmas break. However, after New Years the Yotes were set to face Cal Poly Pomona on January 2nd but found out that 10 of their players tested positive for COVID-19, causing the game to be labeled as a “ No Contest.”

In addition to that on January 8th, a home game against San Francisco State was canceled due to their team having multiple players test positive as well. This led to the CCAA having to just base who was in the first place of the best winning percentage instead of games played because COVID-19 caused certain teams to be able to play each other twice as they normally do. Later in January, the game on the 20th was canceled against Cal State LA due to five of their players testing positive causing the Yotes to miss another game and have to wait to play. In just eight days another game was canceled for the Yotes for their contest at Cal State San Marcos due to their player testing positive as well to COVID-19. 

In conclusion, it goes to show how COVID-19 has still impacted student-athletes today as we enter the third year of the pandemic. To be able to attend these games this season you had to have proof of vaccination and complete a daily health screen along with wearing a mask. Players had to be careful in everything from in the gym to their outside life just to keep the team safe and be able to play in all games. Luckily the Yotes had no COVID-19 problems of their own affecting them from playing but the cost of other teams made them lose games they wanted to play. However, the Yotes still finished the season 24-4 but the impact of COVID-19 was the biggest challenge they had to face all year because that virus could and would spread easily and could have cost some teams their seasons as it changed how the CCAA conference ranked teams for 2021-22 season.

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