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Student-athletes’ mental health a top concern as pandemic continues

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In the opening paragraph of Indiana athletic director Fred Glass’ letter to IU athletes on March 16, he expressed what was on the top of his mind at the onset of the pandemic.

“I am so sorry” were the first four words, as he acknowledged the athletes who would no longer have a chance to compete. Their “personal sacrifice” was recognized. But then Glass touched upon an issue beyond just the games that would be lost.

“If you or someone you know is struggling with this emotionally, please reach out to us,” Glass wrote. “We will continue to do our very best to support you in every way possible during this challenging time.”

Mental health reaching the top paragraph of an athletic director’s letter was evidence of progress, the eroding of a decades-old stigma. It also just captured reality. Efforts to socially distance, while deemed necessary to slow the spread of the virus, would pull teammates apart. And their ability to compete — a thing that, for some, captures an oversized piece of their identity — would be compromised.

Sports psychologists and researchers are seeing the effects, which are only bound to multiply as fall sports cease. A sudden loss of competition, especially […]

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