On January 16th 2021, University of Arizona announced the impacts on athletes during COVID-19. Student athletes have a strong sense of identity regarding their sport, as this becomes a huge portion of their lives. It is evident that the retirement of an athlete in a sport can not only affect their athletic identity, but also their relationship with themselves. At the University of Arizona, several athletes lost the opportunity to compete for their school. When this was ripped away from them, the identity crises were not far behind. While depression is a clear impact, discovering a new identity for athletes who have made sport their entire life is just as difficult to combat.
These athletes are no longer in the public eye, and society is not relying on them to succeed. University of Arizona created a program called Commitment to an athletes total Success (CATS) with a goal to make student athletes leaders in other aspects of university. The university “noticed an explosion in its CATS connect mentoring program”. The CATS program includes classes on teaching these student athletes how to rebuild their identity.
A teacher from the program, Aaron Davis explained that “It’s easy for people on TV or at the games to see these students as powerful, smart, charismatic students. They forget they’re 18-to-21-year-olds who have insecurities”. Society put this lens on athletes assuming they are all strong, when they forget they are human beings trying to support their community and succeed for more than just themselves. When an athlete’s entire identity is ripped away from them, it is difficult, to have a sense of worth. Most of these athletes, struggle to know what else brings them joy and this program will go a long way helping them cope.