Closure and postponement of NJ’s youth sports: the effect on high school athletes

What Do CHS Students Think?

Around 55.5% of teenagers and high school students play sports. (usnews) How has the pandemic changed this?

Photo Credit: photo via pixy.org under creative commons

Around 55.5% of teenagers and high school students play sports. (usnews) How has the pandemic changed this?

By: Emma Downes, Club Reporter

On November 30, 2020 Governor Murphy announced that all youth and adult sports are being put on hold until January 2, 2021.  Many would debate the effectiveness of this mandate, put into effect on December 5th, however, what others are focusing on is the effect this will have on New Jersey’s youth athletes.  How does this affect athletes in their day-to-day lives, their future performance, and most importantly their mental health? 

Softball

Obviously, this closure has been an adjustment and has changed how people conduct their days. Student athletes work sports into their busy days, and now there is a void in place of that. Dylan DaCunha plays softball for Colonia High School (CHS) and for another organization, she has a busy schedule and now doesn’t have practices and workouts with her team.  This means that she can no longer see her friends from softball.  

Girls’ volleyball had to take a backseat during the pandemic but will be opening up out of season shortly. (Photo Credit: Mrs. Danielle Allen)

Volleyball

CHS Sophomore Emma Nadela has similar opinions. Nadela plays volleyball privately and in school, and said, “I am not as active without volleyball.”  Nadela believes that this could have an impact on future performance because there aren’t any practices. 

Boys’ volleyball will begin on April 1st, although the details are not very clear.

Football

On the other hand, sophomore football player Matt Salcedo was able to have a season. However, other sports he played such as volleyball are on have not begun yet. Unlike others asked, Salcedo says that he is happy for some off time after the football season.  

These athletes are all uniquely opinionated yet have a similar experience and connection.

The mandate closing youth sports is potentially the safest precaution for youth athletes at this time. It is important to keep in mind the effect on athletes’ mental health and their future performance.

Track and Field

Track and field had also been impacted by this closure and postponement. Winter Track and Field, supposed to have begun in the beginning of winter was pushed to begin on February 1st. The winter track team has been practicing, however due to bad weather and the ice and snow New Jersey is experiencing they have been unable to have a meet yet.

Junior Captain Nicole Ben-David continues to fly as the 2021 swim season starts. (Photo Credit: Mrs. Danielle Allen)

Swimming

Swimming has also been impacted by restrictions this year. Athletes have to stay six feet apart and swimmers aren’t allowed to change in the locker rooms. Swimmers are not allowed to take their masks off unless they are in the pool, and there are restrictions on the amount of athletes per lane. There are also no in person school vs. school meets, instead swimmers times are submitted and compared to determine the winner according to CHS Sophomore Michelle.

Overall, high school students, especially CHS students have been deeply impacted by the closure and postponement of athletics. Many sports are at a different stage than others, giving each athlete a different experience. Not being able to play sports can affect athlete’s future performance and their mental health. It is important to recognize the impact the closure and postponement of NJ’s youth sports has on student athletes.