The COVID-19 pandemic has upended much of our daily lives and made it difficult to engage in our favorite pass times. One such pass time for many is high school baseball. Last year, baseball and other spring time sports were cut short due to the beginning of what would turn into a nearly yearlong pandemic. In a recent article in the Los Angeles Times, journalist Eric Sondheimer interviewed North Torrance High baseball coach, Joshua Lee, regarding the impact of the pandemic on high school baseball players.
Among Lee’s concern’s were the pandemic’s impact on increasing inequity among student-athletes and the toll on their mental health.
How is the pandemic leading to greater inequity?
Lee pointed out that 70% of his players have traveled out of California to compete in tournaments in states with fewer safety measures in place. Although Lee advises against this, players and their families are determined to continue engaging in their sport and demonstrate their abilities to scouts from college and professional teams. Traveling out of state to compete in tournaments requires resources. Lee noted that players from lower income families, who are often minorities, are unable to afford trips out of state to compete in tournaments. This leads them to fall behind in terms of time spent practicing, competing, being scouted, and enjoying the mental benefits of enjoying their sport.
How is the pandemic affecting the mental health of high school baseball players?
As a coach, Lee noted that players often confide in him and seek his support. However, he has noticed an “astronomical” increase in the amount of players who are significantly struggling and suffering. He described himself as feeling devastated when he has to continually deliver news of further sports-related postponements and cancellations. Many players have lost their junior season and are feeling helpless as they wait to learn if they will also miss their senior season. Lee commented that many of his players are seeking mental health services to help cope with their struggles.
Although there are no easy answers to the issues pointed out by Lee, cognitive behavior therapy, especially when informed by sport psychology, can help address the mental health issues faced by players.
If you are interested in learning more schedule a free phone consultation.
Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA. He provides online therapy (telehealth) by way of the Torrance office and is available for a free initial phone consultation. Dr. von Stietz works with individuals from Long Beach, the greater Los Angeles area, and the South Bay including Palos Verdes, Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, El Segundo and all over California.