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College Wrestling, Hope for a Safer Season

by Colton White

I spent my freshman year of college at a place called Graceland University, which is in
southern Iowa. This was my first time having to be extremely far away from home and deal with
the Covid-19 virus as a student-athlete. It was extremely difficult for me to manage athletics,
schoolwork, the Covid-19 pandemic, and social life all at the same time. Being a wrestler did
not make things much easier to slow down the spread of Covid-19. As a wrestler, I was in close
contact with many people including my coaches, teammates, and opponents. Not wearing a mask
during practice was unacceptable and could lead to the spread of Covid-19. As the season
progressed, the team eventually had a breakout of Covid-19 causing my head coach and multiple
teammates to undergo quarantine for two weeks. I also tested positive for Covid-19 and I was
sent into quarantine with my other teammates. My head coach did not use quarantine as an
excuse to miss the daily workouts. My team had a group app where my head coach would send
out workouts for the team to complete on their own during quarantine. Thankfully, my case of
Covid-19 was mild and the only symptom that stuck with me for a while was a lack of taste. I
was able to complete all of the workouts, but it was not easy. I had to manage my time
effectively because I was forced to zoom into class and complete all of my schoolwork in
quarantine. I remembered how many of my teammates and other student-athletes at Graceland shared the same struggle as me. Through this experience, I learned the importance of wearing a
mask and social distancing. At the time, Covid-19 vaccines were not readily available so the
prevention of Covid-19 was difficult. The solution to Covid-19 requires a collective effort from
everyone involved so that we can slow the spread of the virus.

Covid-19 is a major problem that many students and athletes are currently facing in
college. The impact of the virus has caused many people to make social sacrifices and create new
routines to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Many student-athletes have been mentally affected by
Covid-19 because of the drastic lifestyle changes. A vast amount of student-athletes reported having academic and financial difficulties as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic (4). Additionally,
many problems as a result of the pandemic have caused excessive stress in student-athletes,
which has led to academic shortcomings (4). College students are at risk of contracting Covid-19
because they are in close contact with peers daily. This risk is amplified with student-athletes
because they participate in competitions and practices with many other people. Thousands of
new cases of Covid-19 are constantly appearing on college campuses (5). The NCAA has
revealed data that there have been around 397,000 total cases among student-athletes since the
beginning of the pandemic (5). This number will continue to rise unless organizations come
together to address the problem. Not only will the cases of Covid-19 continue to rise, but the
long-term effects will cause many health-related complications in athletes. The study has shown that
Myocarditis and other closely related heart problems are extremely common among athletes that
have been diagnosed with Covid-19 (3). Myocarditis is the inflammation of the heart muscle, which
is the leading cause of sudden death in athletes (3). The push to have college students and
athletes receive the vaccine is extremely important. Receiving vaccines paired with wearing masks and social distancing will provide student-athletes the proper means to stay healthy and
safe from Covid-19.

The major outside organization that is working to improve the pandemic is the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC works for the entire public health sector and not just
college students and athletes. The CDC pushes for individuals to receive the vaccine because it is
entirely safe and effective in slowing the spread of Covid-19 (2). The CDC recommends that you
receive the vaccine as soon as possible and that you continue to take the other recommended
precautions (2). The vaccine allows your body to build an immunity to the Covid-19 virus in a
safe and regulated environment (2). Natural responses to the vaccine are normal because it shows
your body is building an immunity to the virus (2). The main points the CDC makes about the
vaccine is that it is safe, effective, and will reduce the risk of severe illness from Covid-19 (2).
The facts from the CDC show that student-athletes should get the vaccine to slow the spread of
the Covid-19 virus. Additionally, the CDC has made a list of guidelines specifically tailored for
athletes to reduce their risk of getting Covid-19 while competing in sports. The CDC states that
the physical closeness of players, the intensity of activity, and the behavior of players off the field will
all play a role in the risk associated with getting Covid-19 during the athletic competition (1).
Additionally, the CDC recommends that all athletes practice physical distancing, wear masks,
practice proper hand hygiene, and clean all gear and supplies to maintain healthy environments
(1). By following the guidelines set by the CDC, you are actively reducing the risk of getting
Covid-19 and saving a vast number of lives due to preventing the virus.

If you are an athlete or know an athlete, get the vaccine. Those that receive the vaccine
will save lives and allow college sports to return back to normal. Students and athletes should get the booster shot if they are eligible to maintain proper immunity for preventing Covid-19. In
addition to getting the vaccine, student-athletes must be careful with their daily decisions because
one wrong mistake could lead to an outbreak of Covid-19. Coaches need to be on top of their
Covid-19 mandates and should have their athletes wear masks when needed. Teams should be
supplied with extra disinfectant wipes and other materials to slow the spread of pathogens.
Athletes should receive the vaccine because of its effectiveness in stopping Covid-19 (2). Friends
and family members should also receive the vaccine because they will be interacting with many
student-athletes. This will take a collective call to action to slow the spread of Covid-19.
However, it is necessary and will improve the lives of many student-athletes.

References

Reference 1:

(1)CDC: Considerations for youth sports.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/youth-sports.html

Reference 2:

(2) CDC: Different COVID-19 Vaccines.
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines.html

Reference 3:

(3) News-Medical.net: Long-term effects of Covid-19 in athletes.
https://www.news-medical.net/health/Long-term-Effects-of-COVID-19-in-Athletes.aspx

Reference 4:

(4) NCAA: Pandemic continues to impact student-athlete mental health.

https://www.ncaa.org/about/resources/media-center/news/pandemic-continues-impact-student-athlete-mental-health

Reference 5:

(5) NYTimes: Tracking the Coronavirus at U.S. colleges and universities.
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/covid-college-cases-tracker.html

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