Study Looks At High School Athletics And COVID-19

Oct 23, 2020

Credit WAOW Television

There was good news for high school athletics Thursday afternoon.

"I think everyone was kind of pleasantly surprised," said Stevens Point athletic director Michael Blair.

The pleasant surprise stemmed from the results of a study conducted by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.

The study was centered around the spread of COVID-19 in high school students that participated in sports this fall. The results were published Thursday and concluded that participation in high school sports has not led to an increase in COVID-19 infections among high school student athletes.

"It has meant that the student athletes, the coaches, the schools have taken this all very seriously," said Todd Clark the WIAA Director of Communication. "Because of that commitment and dedication to those guidelines, we are in the position where we are today."

"I guess for me it was affirmation that we were doing a decent job," said Marshfield Athletic Director Nathan DeLany. "The study and the survey kind of played out that that is actually the case."

The study, using a sample size of 30,000 student athletes from across the state, concluded that only one case of COVID-19 can be traced to participating in high school athletics.

Put another way, only .5% of cases in 14-17 year-old student athletes could be directly correlated to playing a high school sport.

It's a positive result that athletic directors credit almost entirely to the student athletes.

"I think the safety protocols that were put in place and followed by kids and coaches really really helped," said Blair.

"The fact that we're through fall is entirely their credit," said DeLany. "It's their credit, it's their parents, it's our coaching staff. That's where the credit is deserved for getting this far."

However while the results have been encouraging, there is still more work to be done and new challenges to overcome with winter sports approaching.

"We will continue to follow these same guidelines," said Clark. "Hopefully in the same manner in which they have (worked) through the fall season, (they) progress into the winter season and that the same outcomes will come to pass."