Young athletes coping with shutdown of sports world

Posted at 11:04 PM, Mar 17, 2020

The coronavirus is shutting down everything in daily life, including young athletes' sport seasons; high school, college, and professional included. As a parent of kids in school, what are the right things to say to your children as they try and cope with the abrupt end of their sports seasons?

"It's kind of disorienting,” Eric Goodman, a psychologist for the Coastal Center for Anxiety Treatment, said about kids first learning of the demise of their seasons.

Not being able to play a season as a young athlete could seem like the end of the world to them, so getting through a time where seemingly every sport is at a standstill, empathy is vital.

“Understanding that they're going to be emotional and all over the place for a little bit. Try to give them some type of routine, as normal under the circumstances as can be,” Goodman said. “They're going to feel scared and maybe snippy about it, but they'll move forward as we all will during this weird time."

Curtis Nemetz has 4 kids: One had a “Super Bowl” canceled in his football league, another a soccer season, and a third his lacrosse season, but the Nemetz family has stressed selflessness in this time of uncertainty.

“They're all pretty disappointed, but they understand it's not necessarily their health and their benefit, but that it's for fragile or older people that are more susceptible to getting sicker,” Nemetz said. “They're okay with the sacrifice, but it is hard."

Not every child has the same reaction, but middle schoolers, Calvin and Oliver Nemetz, understand the circumstances.

“I love to visit my grandparents, and they're pretty old. I just don't want them to get sick. I know that it's kind of a pain in the butt, but we have to think about everybody; we can't just think about ourselves," Calvin said.

"It should be taken seriously, not like a joke,” Oliver said. “Rudy Golbert, he said, ‘There's no way I'm going to get it.’ And then he got it. You can use him as an example for doing that."

It may be some time before the sports world is back and running, so in the meantime, compassion and patience are needed.

"It's just starting, but people are really starting to struggle. And if people have a pre-existing anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, or depression, this is going to bring things to the surface, potentially in a big way,” Goodman said. “Help each other and support each other as we get through the next couple of months."