Empty stadiums

The impact of the loss of sports due to COVID-19 on student-athletes


Audrey Lippert

The West Linn High School football stadium stands empty due to the cancellation of spring sports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Athletics are deeply ingrained in the American high school culture, so not being able to play and compete this year upended the goals of many students. “We wanted to win state, that was probably our biggest goal as a team but also it’s just getting close to everyone over the course of the season and making memories,” Grace Winjum, senior, said. Winjum is a varsity lacrosse player who was excited to not only try to win the state championship but also to be a captain for the first time this year.  

Sports have been proven time and time again to be extremely beneficial to a student’s mental, physical, and emotional health. The sense of community students get from working together towards a goal is extremely important, as it helps bolster their self-esteem according to edutopia.org. “Sports can help you perform better in school, relax more and worry less, deal with setbacks, work better with others and increase your energy,” an article from the University of Rochester says. 

Audrey Lippert

For Winjum a big part of the sense of community students get from sports comes from the mentoring role the older students get to take when they become captains. “This year actually, I was going to be a captain, and I was really looking forward to it because it’s kind of like a family every year and it was going to be really nice to introduce the freshman to that kind of feeling,” Winjum said. 

Captains help guide younger players as they enter high school and teach them team traditions. This year athletes don’t have a chance to build that support network due to the season being cancelled.  

Athletics also give students personal goals to reach for. Dashiell Lipsey, senior, has been training for the track season all year. “I was poised to do better this season than I was the last few years and now I don’t get to do that,” Lipsey said. “So all those goals that I had set just kind of fizzled out.”

“It’s a big change from being in that team environment and being around people all the time and having a full schedule to just nothing,” Winjum said.  For student-athletes like Lipsey and Winjum, not being able to participate in their spring sport has been disappointing and a large adjustment in their everyday lives. Student-athletes that have been looking forward to the spring season all year have now had their seasons snatched away by COVID-19.  “It’s hard to know that my last season is just gone, without getting to achieve any of the goals we set,” Winjum said.