After COVID-19: Get Ready to Play

UPMC Sports medicine physician Dr. Jeanne Doperak joins Tim to talk about how athletes of all ages can get back to playing sports again in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. She’s one of the people behind the new UPMC Youth Sports Playbook designed to help get young athletes back to competition. In this episode, Dr. Doperak details the thinking behind that playbook, and how to get your young athlete back into sports with confidence, with the right approach and the right mindset.

In 2015, the Aspen Institute published a report on youth sports. They looked at youth sports participation among boys and girls from 6 to 12 years old. They found that across the country, roughly 5.5 million kids participate in organized basketball leagues. 5 million play in soccer leagues. 731,000 participate in track and field. 4.5 million kids play in baseball leagues. 1.3 million kids play organized football. And 862,000 kids play in softball leagues.

The National Federation of State High School Associations, reports that roughly 8 million teenagers compete in high school sports.

And the NCAA reports that 460,000 men and women compete in NCAA collegiate sports.

That’s a total of 26.4 million young athletes in the United States. That’s 26.4 million young athletes who had to stop training, practicing and competing a few months ago when the COVID-19 pandemic changed life in America as we know it.

Gyms went dark, courts and fields went empty. Locker rooms….locked.

Now, as the country moves forward with a gradual reopening process, sports are set to resume at all levels. This may create some concern on the parts of athletes, their families, coaches, teachers, school administrators and athletic directors.

It was with this in mind, that UPMC Sports Medicine in Pittsburgh assembled a multidisciplinary team of clinicians and researchers to create guidelines for the people in charge of creating a safe environment for youth athletes as they start to return to play.

Dr. Jeanne Doperak is a UPMC primary care sports medicine physician. She led the development of the UPMC Youth Sports Playbook for a return to sports.


About this Episode’s Guest Dr. Jeanne Doperak

Jeanne Doperak, DO, a primary care sports medicine physician, sees patients at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex and UPMC’s Monroeville satellite office. She is a general physician for the athletic departments of both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, assistant team physician for the Pitt Panthers men’s basketball team, head team physician for St. Vincent College, and a medical consultant to Latrobe High School.

A valuable source of information on everything sports medicine, Dr. Doperak can provide enlightening commentary on issues affecting athletes of all ages and ability levels, such as the urgency of properly identifying injury in the youth athlete, heat illness, the effects of air quality on athletic performance, and injuries in general. She can also discuss general and women’s health issues, such as osteoporosis in the young woman, stress fractures, the clinical side of eating disorders, and exercise and pregnancy.

Dr. Doperak is an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a “residency liaison” in the Departments of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. She also helps to organize the medical coverage for Pittsburgh’s Emergency Medical Services for the annual Pittsburgh Race for the Cure. She is a physician representative on the board of directors of the Big East Sports Medicine Society and a member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American College of Sports Medicine.

After graduating from Allegheny College, Dr. Doperak attended medical school at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She completed a family medicine residency at Latrobe Area Hospital and a primary care sports medicine fellowship at UPMC Shadyside.