Research begins on COVID-19 impacts on student-athletes


Atlantic University Sport (AUS) student-athletes have found themselves in an unusual predicament since the cancellation of national championships last season and the current sporting season being on hold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many classes have moved online and there are no current decisions regarding the status of AUS schedules in 2021.

After having conducted previous research with this demographic, Dr. Cheryl MacDonald of the Centre for the Study of Sport & Health at Saint Mary’s University has shifted her focus to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the everyday lives of AUS student-athletes. Participants between their second and fifth year of sport eligibility will be asked to complete an online survey and photo sharing exercise aimed at examining how their activities, relationships, and mental health may have been affected since March of this year.

“From both an academic and administrative perspective, it’s important to hear from the student-athletes themselves about how they are doing with the changes they have experienced,” said Dr. MacDonald. “We have an opportunity here to document their experiences and perhaps use that information to determine how to better support them right now, in the transition back to sport participation, and maybe beyond that.”

Dr. MacDonald is a sport sociologist who is best known for her research on masculinity and ice hockey, but university-level athletes have been participants in her studies since 2009. Her work has been published in the Sociology of Sport Journal, she has a forthcoming anthology on social issues in ice hockey, and she has twice been a media panellist for the Hockey is for Everyone initiative on behalf of the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers. When the COVID-19 pandemic halted her most recent study on gender and sexuality education in ice hockey, she used the pause as an opportunity to change directions and find a way to serve the athletes with whom she was already working.

This survey and photo sharing project on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on AUS student-athletes’ lives will require between 30 and 90 minutes to complete because it involves some short answer questions and will thus depend on how participants respond. We have removed the collection of IP addresses in an attempt to anonymize responses and participants are cautioned to not include any names of people or places, to block out any university or team logos using emojis or other digital shapes, and to avoid sharing any criminal content (obscenity, illegal substances, etc.).

Click here to take the survey in either English or French.

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