MILWAUKEE - Masked up, athletes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee are dealing with the consequences the coronavirus has served on sports.
UWM Athletic Director Amanda Braun
"We asked for an exception to the Milwaukee order for contact sports so that our kids can begin to practice in a more normal fashion than what they are used to," UWM Athletic Director Amanda Braun said.
With a spike in COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, Braun said teams are playing it safe as much as possible.
"Conducting baseline testing for pretty much all of our athletes," said Braun. "We are crossing our fingers and asking them to behave so we can keep them with us."
Since fall sports have been delayed to the spring, players are taking part in conditioning, strength training and individual workouts, but just returning to the field in some form was a morale boost.
"Right now, it really gave us a shot in the arm," said Braun. "I've shared with folks on campus, stop by, throw your mask on, watch a workout, or go to the soccer field. It's fun to see our kids in action and it really, I think, is good for school spirit."
The eventual return of sports is also good for revenue after sports were canceled last spring.
"There was a lot of saving in travel, team travel and game operations," said Braun. "Coaches weren't allowed to go out and recruit there."
There were also mitigating measures over the summer at UWM.
"We've taken some mitigating measures with furloughs over the summer and leaving some positions vacant. We've done some sports budget reduction," Braun said. "It's an interesting time, but I think we are going to come out of this stronger than we were before."