Student athletes, worried about mental health, rally to play sports again

Published: Nov. 11, 2020 at 9:50 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - As the coronavirus continues to break records in Wisconsin, student athletes are fighting to make a return to game day.

Wednesday on the Capitol Square, two dozen protesters with the group Open Dane County Public and Private Schools put the focus on students who have lost their seasons to COVID-19. They demanded that students in Dane County be allowed to return to all sports and other extracurricular activities.

“I think part of sports is the community you create with your team. Not being able to have that hurts all of our mental health,” Nina Crull, a senior at McFarland High School and co-captain of the volleyball team, said.

According to data from UW Health and the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, more than two-thirds of high school athletes surveyed since the pandemic reported feelings of anxiety and depression at levels typically requiring medical intervention.

Parent Jeff Crull added the community should consider the mental health impacts on students, saying, “Too often it’s been assumed that the only definition of whether you’re healthy or not is if you do or don’t have COVID.”

These demands come on the heels of Governor Tony Evers issuing Executive Order 94, recommending people to stay home as much as possible. On Wednesday, the Department of Health Services revised its COVID-19 activity levels, adding the category “critically high,” above “very high.”

“It’s a virus, so we have to learn how to live with it,” said parent Kassy McMillan. Asked how she would feel if her daughter contracted the virus while playing on the field, McMillan answered, “I guess we know that going in.”

She continued, “I’m more concerned about her mental health. I’m willing to take the risk of a COVID situation happening.”

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