How the pandemic has changed students’ participation in sports and recreation

(Photo by Natasha Colburn)

It has been just over a year that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world. Early into the pandemic people were required to quarantine in an effort to stop COVID-19 from spreading. Since then rules for staying safe have changed as things have improved but the pandemic has still affected and will continue to affect peoples’ day-to-day lives. This includes how local students participate in sports and recreation. 

When Utah first decided to shut down, many events that students participated in were canceled. Students could no longer go play pickup basketball, workout in gyms, and leagues were canceled — including intramurals at UVU.  

“Intramurals that I had signed up with at UVU had shut down and that was kind of sad because I was just getting out there,” said Tiffany Nelson, a student at UVU.  

This affected students and required them to find other ways to stay active. One student talked about how he changed things up instead of going to the gym.

“I went outside, I started to do a lot more fishing, a lot more hiking, a lot more biking,” said UVU student Aaron Bono. “When the gyms had mandates I went outside. You can go hiking and not see anybody for maybe the whole day.”

Going outside was an easy way for some students to social distance while other students still wanted to be involved in the sports that they were before. Since the COVID-19 rules have lightened up a bit, student-organized pick-up games have been a way for students to continue playing sports they enjoy. Nelson mentioned that she gets together with a group of friends once a week to play soccer.

Currently, many gyms and recreation centers require people to wear masks while in the building but allow them to take them off when they are exercising. Some sports leagues have also begun to start up again. BYU student Rowland Bolman talked about his recent participation in a basketball tournament. 

“It almost felt normal, there really weren’t any restrictions in terms of limiting people,” said Bolman. “The patrons had to wear masks but I never actually had to wear a mask going to the event. It felt more normal than anything I have participated in [during] the last year.”

With the mask mandate ending on April 10, more COVID-19 rules are slowly going away and things are starting to become closer to how they were before the pandemic. Even with hope that things can be closer to normal by the fall, the pandemic has still affected some things that students will do moving forward.

“I don’t think [the pandemic] will change my mindset. I do think that I might be more aware of others …  just being aware of their worries and concerns,” said Nelson. 

Bono also mentioned that he would be more aware of other people moving forward and that he wanted to continue to participate in outdoor activities. This past year has also helped students see what life could be like without their favorite sport or gyms. 

“I think that more than anything, it has helped me grow a great appreciation for [exercise] because it is something that I really like to do and when that was taken away from me … I just realized how much I truly do enjoy it and how much I need it in my day to day life,” said Bolman.

This past year has been unlike one that students have ever experienced. As students move forward and start to get their regular activities back, everyone is hoping for a safe return to what is considered normal life. 

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