Wisconsin Study Finds High School Sports Do Not Increase COVID Risks

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As OutKick has covered, there has been a nationwide debate about whether high school sports should be played during the COVID-19 epidemic. A new study, published by University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, says that the “findings suggest that participation in sports is not associated with an increased risk of COVID-19 among Wisconsin high school student-athletes.”

As the site Wissports.net notes, the study was published by Drew Watson, MD, MS. Dr. Watson is a team physician for Badger Athletics and a member of UW’s Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation.

A study conducted between September 6 and October 3 found that high school fall athletes had no higher COVID rates than the general Wisconsin 14-17 year-old population. Of the 209 COVID cases amongst Wisconsin high school student athletes diagnosed during that time frame, only one could be traced to sports. Thirty percent of the cases had no known source.

The study covered “207 schools that had restarted sports, representing over 30,000 student-athletes, over 16,000 practices and over 4,000 competitive games in September 2020.”

The study also referenced previously published findings: “In May of 2020, we conducted a nationwide survey of over 13,000 adolescent athletes regarding the impacts of school and sport cancelation due to COVID-19 on physical activity and mental health. Comparing the data from 3,200 Wisconsin athletes within this sample to data we had collected from over 5,000 Wisconsin adolescent athletes prior to COVID-19, we found that physical activity levels had dropped by 50% during the pandemic, and symptoms of depression had increased dramatically. Prior to 2020, less than 10% of Wisconsin athletes reported moderate to severe symptoms of depression.”

This study should definitely be part of the conversation as high schools across the nation decide what to do about winter and spring sports.


Written by Ryan Glasspiegel

Ryan Glasspiegel grew up in Connecticut, graduated from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lives in Chicago. Before OutKick, he wrote for Sports Illustrated and The Big Lead. He enjoys expensive bourbon and cheap beer.

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