Return to play: When is the right time to return?

August 7, 2020


When? That’s the big question, isn’t it? We all want to return to play – boy, do we miss our teams! But should we? As much as we want our kids to get back to all the benefits of team sports, and as much as we miss cheering them on, their health and safety come first.

So, how do we know when the time is right?

The answer is different for every organization and every community. Nonetheless, there are certain factors we all need to think about and criteria we need to meet before we can return to play feeling comfortable and confident. The CDC created a detailed tool for youth camps, but much of the material applies equally well to youth sports organizations and school athletics.


  • What’s your sport? Obviously non-contact sports such as golf and track lend themselves to physical distancing far more easily than team sports where players do have direct contact or typically gather closely in the locker room or dugout. But each sport functions differently. Think about where you are on a continuum where distanced play is at one end and close play at the other.
  • What’s the status of COVID-19 in your community? States and municipalities are using a Phase system for re-openings, giving each phase 14 days after implementation to see how things go. (Virus symptoms are believed to appear within 14 days.) During this period, local health officials monitor statistics such as hospital visits and new COVID case rates. COVID-19 is still a fluid situation, and a concerning one where infection rates are climbing again. If problems persist or worsen, your community may be “backed up” to a more restrictive phase, and that will affect your return to play plans. You will have to remain flexible.
  • Do you have local approval to resume play? Find out who is responsible for making local decisions and the process involved, so your return to play plan meets whatever criteria they set. Close communication will ensure you’re on the right track and underscore your credibility when it comes to gaining permission for your teams to play once again. Keep in mind that just because you’re allowed doesn’t mean you should move forward yet.
  • Where will you play? Don’t assume your usual field, court or rink will automatically be available, unless your school or YSO actually owns that property. Even with that, many schools are still shut down for sports as well as classroom education. A third party may not be anxious to have you back yet, due to legal liability concerns. They’ll be more willing, though, when you can show them your RTP plan outlining the health and safety protocols you will follow.
  • Can you function adequately while adhering to new guidelines? It’s good to have a plan, but if you cannot executive it fully and confidently, you’re not ready to play just yet. The whole point is ability to meet the CDC’s and your own return to play guidelines. No matter the details, things will be very different.
  • Do you clearly understand the risks? With so much still uncertain regarding COVID-19, we can only do our best. But we have to return to play with our eyes open to the risks to our players and community. It is critical to understand the legal and financial risks your organization faces in addition to those health concerns.


Moving forward with confidence

To help schools and YSOs decide when the time is right for your teams, SquadLocker, in collaboration with the PLAY Sports Coalition, has developed a comprehensive, downloadable guide that explains the steps you should take and key questions to ask yourself as you create your own Return to Play Plan. The guide also includes links to other resources that will help you know when it’s time to return to play.

One link you can always rely on is your online SquadLocker store. No worries here about safety, because our ordering and delivery process is not only easy, convenient and fast, it is 100% contactless. Parents and fans place their own orders for uniforms, gear and spirit wear any time they want, and we deliver right to their door. Never a worry about short turnaround times or last-minute changes to the roster.

We’re stocked up for fall (check out our new catalog here) – ready to go whenever your team is ready to return to play.

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