Winter Athletics and COVID-19’s Impact


Indoor high school and youth sports were suspended in New Jersey until January under new COVID-19 rules, Governor Murphy announced. It will mean youth and high school basketball, ice hockey, swimming, and other indoor sports will be temporarily banned. Athletics have been one of those things that we all know to be a critical part of the so-called “high school experience.” Today, the sports field has merely expanded, filling up with an even greater variety of competitive options for male and female students. While many students get involved in high school athletics for the love of that particular game, there are significant benefits from these extracurricular activities as well.

The fitness level of athletes in high school sports programs cannot be underestimated. A 2001 survey found that students agreed they would not spend as much time in other activities like watching television and playing video games if they had other options after school. Students who participate in sports often grow close friendships with others on the team. These relationships are important for mental, emotional, and physical health throughout the high school years. Students bond together over a common love for their game, and the time they spend together at practice and games builds tight bonds that often last long after high school is over. 

With school having about 60% students learning virtually, many students are already missing that ability to bond, and the lack of sanctioned school sports simply added to that problem.  We can have just so many zoom calls, text messages, and chats on Discord. As teenagers, we crave that connection to each other.  When Governor Murphy suspended sports/athletics for even a short period of time, he took away our connections, our bonds right now and for some time after. .