Spring 2020 is unlike any other season the sports industry has experienced.
The global spread of COVID-19 has resulted in schools, institutions, universities, businesses, and organizations turning to remote learning and working, implementing curbside business, and closings and/or cancellations all together.
This has also meant no spring sports. Period.
Without spring sports game and/or practice-related injuries, which would require specialist intervention, seem less likely.
“Not what you’d expect from a normal spring sports season,” said Dr. Douglas Tewes, MD, who is a physician with Lincoln Orthopaedic Center and Medical Director for the Lincoln Saltdogs and Lincoln Stars.
Tewes said the cancellation of spring sports made a significant impact on scheduling and resulted in the cancellation of 70 of his surgeries alone.
The Lincoln Orthopedic Physicians stopped doing elective surgeries, beginning about the third week of March. They were still able to perform emergency procedures such as treating fractures. However, elective surgeries such as ACL tears, shoulder dislocations, and the like were put on hold.
After six weeks of no elective surgeries, Tewes and his colleagues have slowly begun to make up those surgeries.
“It’s been a slower progression. And I think the reason for that is because there’s still less overall … activity out there,” he said. “The first three weeks or so that we went back to performing surgeries, I think I was doing only about 60% of normal. We’re just now kind of getting back to things getting close to normal.”
Certified athletic trainers were also among those affected by COVID-19.
“One of the interesting things is all those athletic trainers ended up working at the hospital instead of going out and doing athletic training,” said Tewes.
Corey Courtney is the Sports Medicine Director at Lincoln Orthopaedic Center in Bryan Hospital and head athletic trainer for the Lincoln Stars and Lincoln Saltdogs. He said his eight full-time athletic trainers have stayed busy during this unprecedented spring sports season.
“When the high schools shut down early, they [athletic trainers] were moved into the hospitals to do various things, whether it’s greeting people at the door or doing temperature checks,” Courtney said. “So, to utilize them and subsidize their time, they were filling in at the hospital, doing various things to help with COVID.”
He said the trainers filled in the gaps: trainers worked at drive-thru swab testing, collected samples, and signed people in.
Courtney said getting activities up and running again may be as challenging, if not more so, than when everything shut down.
“Returning is going to be a different thing,” he said. “Yeah, the shutting down was one thing, but now returning as sports are opening up is going to be a different animal in itself, trying to figure it out.”
For the time being, the trainers’ next order of business is catching up and completing the necessary impact concussion testing for athletes as activities return at the end of July/beginning of August.
Courtney said that it’s imperative to take the necessary time to ensure a clean and sanitary return. Safety, he says, is paramount.