Covid And The Coach: The Kids Need To Return To Sports
Who could have foreseen this? A little less than a year ago, the world was clipping along stressing out about Australian fires, mourning the death of Gianna and Kobe Bryant, and a multitude of other current events. But no one could have prepared society for COVID-19 and what devastation it would bring quickly and fiercely to our day-to-day lives. While we as adults are grappling with the unprecedented issues thrust before us and seniors struggle with changes to their supposed “Golden Years’, what hasn’t been lost is the effect that this is having on the next generation.
The youth born following the year 2000 may be bearing the brunt of COVID’s wrath more than any other. While the financial implications are real to many in our society, and isolation a big issue, the youth are missing milestones that the rest of us have long forgotten. This is not to minimize the impacts of COVID on anyone who is suffering one way or the other. No one wants to compete for the title of hardest done by in this untenable situation.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have discovered a marked increase in emergency room visits centered around mental health from 2019 to 2020. Adolescents between the ages of 12-17 showed the largest increase of mental health-related visits confirming significant issues in our youth and their mental health. This increase of nearly 30 percent through the latter half of 2020 is concerning. We need to take notice and consequently, we need to take action. The loss of sports and other activities is having a significant impact on the mental health of our active youth. This is a significant piece of their personal puzzle and a big part of who they are; they are clearly in crisis. It’s about their co-curricular yes, but more importantly, the human interactions and human connections that are so significant in their lives. As a society, we place an extremely high value on the growth and development received through interactions with teammates and coaches. These are their friends and their mentors, and they have been taken away with no return for many. Youth are put in sports for those reasons. To gain those strong sports advocates who help teach them commitment, rewards, and consequences. Coach role models help raise our children. We do love to watch them play, but more to the point, we love to watch them GROW.
The holes that have been created without their day-to-day interactions with coaches, teachers, and of course with their peers will be impossible to recreate and will be missing in the very fabric of their personality. In many parts of North America, our kids aren’t in schools, they’re not at practice, missing out on team parties, and feeling isolated. It’s about losing and finding their way. It has been nearly a year lost of graduations, championships won and lost, walking home from practice with a teammate, navigating an issue with the team, making a new friend, and losing touch with an old one. As I have challenged many to do over the past few weeks, consider the stages of the life of a youth between the ages of 12-20. Consider what milestone you might be willing to give up from that period of your life. There are so many and they are losing them all.
Every day I tell my own children to make the best of a bad situation. But easy for me to say. I’m not nearly as affected as they are. Not even close. I want the magic bullet to solve this crisis. I am well aware that there isn’t one. I’m not suggesting I have a solution. I clearly don’t. But it’s an awful loss for our youth. An awful loss for our society. And we may not see the full effects until far off in the future.
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Dave Paddington is a 30-year Coach (Basketball, Football, Hockey), 23-year Classroom Teacher, 20-years experienced National Coaching Certification Program Trainer/coach developer, 17-years experienced parent (17year old/15year old/11year old). Reach Coach Dave on Twitter @davepaddington