EFFECTS OF COVID-19 ON MIDDLE SCHOOL ATHLETICS AND ACTIVITIES
By Nate Perry
The past five issues of High School Today have addressed the coronavirus’ effects on high school athletics and activities from a variety of vantage points – the grief over lost events, families on the move in search of specific opportunities, students and school personnel maximizing available programs and virtual platforms being used to save performing arts festivals, to name a few.
The reality is the pandemic has touched all levels of sports and performing arts, and while media coverage has made that impact known within the collegiate and professional ranks, others – especially those below high school – have not seen anywhere near the same attention.
Despite their tendency to be overlooked, the importance of middle school programs cannot be overstated. In many cases, they present children with some of their very first opportunities to develop lasting interests and serve as a valuable introduction to the same lessons and lifelong values associated with high school participation.
“We’re talking about kids who are undergoing massive physical, social and emotional changes,” said Julie Cochran, NFHS director of sports and liaison to the NFHS Middle School Committee. “Building, cultivating and sustaining relationships isn’t a guarantee in all learning environments, but in extracurricular and cocurricular activities, where kids are a part of a group or team, it develops communication and socialization skills, teaches proper behavior in cooperative environments, provides incentives for attending school – the list goes on and on. It’s crucial in these developing adolescent years to make sure they’re getting these experiences.”