How are we to play it safe as we return to sports play? It’s the big question on everyone’s mind these days as we emerge from isolation and head back onto the field or court. It is so exciting to finally reconnect, but health officials are concerned that we will trigger a secondary, or even a third, wave of COVID-19 infections if we aren’t careful enough.
Face masks or not, every touch or too-close encounter brings a fresh worry – will this be the one that infects me? Am I unknowingly infecting someone else?
We have to listen to the experts here, because they are our coaches and mentors in this situation. Fortunately, the Centers for Disease Control has issued a playbook we can all use. Their Considerations for Youth Sports are thoroughly detailed, and we may not be able to follow every recommendation. But we can certainly use these recommendations as intended – to guide us as we figure out how we can return to play as safely as possible, given our own circumstances.
It’s all about risk assessment
The CDC notes that risk of spreading COVID-19 increases as youth sports engage in:
- - At-home skill-building drills and condition performed with family members or alone
- - Team-based practice
- - Competition within teams
- - Full competition between local teams
- - Full competition with teams from outside the local area
- Travel affects every player, even if it’s only being chauffeured to and from the game by Mom. And Soccer Moms everywhere are notorious for their own teamwork, taking turns transporting carloads of kids at a time. Many teams also travel outside the community for away games. How will you modify your routines or schedule to keep everyone safe? (The CDC recommends youth sports teams stay local and players ride only with their own family members.)
Understanding risk levels will help as you consider each of these factors as you work to define your new normal:
- - Player age (older kids can understand and follow “safe practices” rules more easily than little ones)
- - Team size
- - Presence of non-essential personnel (volunteers, parents and other spectators, etc.)
- - Education and communication (teaching and signage that reminds everyone how to reduce the spread of disease)
- -Hand hygiene, including providing washing supplies and hand sanitizer at practices and games
- - Respiratory etiquette (the CDC recommends cloth masks for all but players themselves, especially when physical distancing isn’t feasible)
- - Disinfection of gear, including avoiding sharing of towels, etc.
- - Ventilation (outdoor play is naturally safer)
- - Closing or spreading out use of communal spaces such as dugouts and locker rooms
The CDC also recommends increased training for coaches and staff. In this respect, coronavirus isn’t the only concern. Aspen Institute’s Project Play reports about 88% of parents worry about injuries, and for good reason. Each year, millions of children suffer sports injuries that require medical treatment. Even kids themselves cite fear of getting hurt as a key reason for side-stepping sports opportunities. However, the CDC says half of all sports injuries are preventable, and the Aspen Institute strongly recommends increased coach training about injuries as well as coronavirus safety protocols.
We're also offering, in collaboration with the PLAY Sports Coalition, a Return To Play Guide you can use to create your own Safe Return to Play plan, tailored to your organization and community. It’s free.
Gearing up is a no-contact sport at SquadLocker
Our entire playbook is built on saving you time and hassles while ensuring everyone associated with your organization gets the quality uniforms, spirit wear, face masks and other accessories they want. Always personalized, of course, because decorated gear and leisure apparel celebrate your team’s “we’ve got this!” spirit. No matter what else changes, showing your style will never go out of style.
Fast. Convenient. No actual touch required. You can stay safe right from the start, even as you’re gearing up for your team’s return to play, with contact-free ordering through your SquadLocker and direct-to-player delivery. The only hard part? No congratulatory high fives, fist bumps, etc. Kids or adults, we are simply so used to making these moves. Group hug! (Well, not now. Maybe later.)
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