Shutting down schools is not the only way our politicians are destroying the lives of children. They also continue to ban or limit youth sports in many states or make kids play with masks, which is a greater health threat to children than the coronavirus. The entire sports and leisure life of children has been destroyed for a generation, all for a virus that does not pose a statistically significant threat to them, more than the daily risk of living. Now a new study from Wisconsin lays waste to the entire premise of shutting down youth sports in the first place.
Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health published a preprint study of coronavirus transmission among 30,704 high school athletes who played sports in Wisconsin during the fall. Wisconsin children were luckier than others because the state Supreme Court reversed the categorical ban on youth sports last May, so most were able to play sports. However, the majority of students were, shockingly, forced to play wearing masks. So, did it make a difference?
Overall, the study found that the infection rate among players was exactly in line with the infection rate in the given county at the time. Despite 30,074 student-athletes that had participated in 16,898 practices and 4,378 games during the peak of Wisconsin’s fall spread, the rate of incidence among those students was actually lower (32.6 cases per 100,000 person-days) than the rate of incidence among the general population of 14-17-year-olds (38.1 cases per 100,000 person-days) during the time.
Here’s the money quote:
Of the cases with a reported known source, 115 (55%) were attributed to 163 household contact followed by community contact outside sport or school (85, 41%), school 164 contact (5, 2.4%), sport contact (1, 0.5%) and other (3, 1.4%).
You read that right. Just 1 individual of 30,000 players contracted the virus through what was suspected to be transmission from the sporting event. And I’d bet my bottom dollar that this was not the worst thing that child had contracted in his lifetime. In fact, with flu season on hiatus, children are getting sick less often and less severely than they do during a typical winter.
The researchers further found no statistically significant difference in reported COVID-19 incidence between contact versus non-contact sports or individual versus team sports. They did find a slightly higher rate for indoor vs. outdoor sports, which is to be expected, although the overall rates for that age group were low across the board.
What about masks?
“After adjusting for local county COVID-19 incidence and school instructional delivery, face mask use was not associated with a decreased COVID-19 incidence in football, girls’ volleyball, boys’ soccer or cross country.” If anything, there was a greater incidence of cases among those who wore masks relative to those who didn’t for the football groups, which had the most cases out of the four sport groups studied. Either way, because 84% were wearing masks, it was hard to get a significant sample size of non-mask-wearers, which will always be used as an excuse to avoid drawing conclusions from this study.
However, with no affirmative evidence that masks ever work, why are we making kids play in such a dangerous environment for a virus that is simply not a problem for them? In an informal survey of 2,270 Minnesota high school athletes, 74% of students reported experiencing at least one “clinically significant symptom” from wearing a mask while playing, including loss of consciousness, dizziness, and vomiting. Almost 80% of respondents said it was hard to breathe, 52% said they experienced “increased or excessive fatigue,” and 48 players reported going to urgent care, with 18 of them being taken to the ER.
The broad results of the Wisconsin study harmonize with a recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which found “that the transmission risk during a rugby match is likely to be very low.” Well, if you’re not spreading it during rugby, then you’re likely not spreading it during any sport. Even if masks were to work in general, there is no reason children, who are not at risk in any meaningful way, should have to wear masks outdoors. The harm far outweighs even the contrived benefits of mask-wearing.
Incidentally, it was the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health that published a mental health survey among high school athletes last July that found that approximately 68 percent of the 3,243 student-athletes surveyed reported feelings of anxiety and depression at levels that would typically require medical intervention.
In October, that same department published a survey comparing those in Wisconsin who participated in sports to those who did not and found that 80% of those who participated felt zero anxiety in their lives compared to just 26.4% who did not play a sport in the fall. Just 6.6% of those who played felt moderate or severe anxiety compared to 44.1% who did not! Also, nearly twice as many students who played sports reported experiencing no or minimal depression as among those who did not participate in youth sports.
Remember that according to the CDC’s current unscientific guidance, youth sports and extracurricular activities would be banned in all the red areas.
What our government is doing to us is a crime against humanity. A 2019 study published in Nature Neuroscience observed that social interaction was so important even for lab rats that when offered the option between a drug infusion (they were previously injected with methamphetamine) and interaction with other rats, the rats chose their peers 90% of the time.
The question going forward is not only whether we will follow the science, but whether we will treat our children with as much humanity as rats.