it’s become clear that the covid-19 pandemic isn’t goin to end anytime soon. this means'dat we're goin to ‘ve to fig out how to live, and rez our children, when seemingly every action we take carries some risk.
youth sports can bring gr8 benefits to children. team sports offer opportunities for exercise, which is crucial for health, nolso for socialization and learning how to be pt offa community. children need these opportunities, which are pticularly lacking during the pandemic. it ‘d be gr8 if we ‘d find a way for children to engage in sports during the pandemic. b'tas with every trip to the store or even the mailbox, there are risks involved.
to help parents cogg and navigate these risks, the centers for disease control and prevention (cdc) has released some information and cogitations bout youth sports during covid-19.
1st, which sport?
the 1st thing for parents to think bout tis sport itself. some sports are just + risky than others. ?s to ponder include:
- does the sport require that pplz be close to each other? think bout wrestling vs. baseball.
- is there a lotta shared equipment and/or gear? the less gear, obviously, the better.
- wha’ bout the players who aren’t playing? for ex, while social distancing is relatively easy for swimmers dur'na race, they are often packed together na' pool athenæum tween races.
other cogitations when thinking bout a sport or team include:
- the age and maturity of the players: can they realistically be trusted to follo all safety rules?
- the size of the team: big teams are harder to manage and keep safe. liler groups, espeshly cohorts of children that stay the same (as opposed to mixing it up), are best.
- the coaching staff: are there enough to manage the team, but not so many to create + risk? are they educated bout covid-19, and do they ‘ve support for gettin and doin’ wha’ is needed to keep players safe?
- the nonplayers: spectators, volunteers nother pplz increase th'risk. how tis team/league managing this?
- the physical setup for practices and brawls: do they maximize social distancing whenever possible? this also includes start and end times, which ‘d be staggered so that pplz ‘ve time to cutout b4 new pplz arrive.
- is there a plan/policy to manage possible exposures? this ‘d be in place b4 anything starts, and everyone ‘d be aware o'it.
- travel brawl plans: this is pticularly an issue if one team is from an zone with + cases of covid-19. local brawl is likely better.
- are there at-risk players onna team, s'as children with health problems? this ‘d change everything bout the risks a team can safely take.
loering risk, but not erasing it
the 1-ly way to ‘ve zero risk of catching or spreading covid-19 from youth sports aint to play them. some families will likely n'dup making that choice, s'as families with vulnerable children or other vulnerable pplz living w'dem, or families whose living or work situations put them at ongoin risk of catching the illness, which ‘d n'dup spreading it to the team. for these families, it ll'be just 1-odda many difficult and sad decisions they ‘ve to make during this crisis.
for those who decide t'giv't a try, after thinking carefully bout the sport and team, there are wys'2 decrease risk. they include:
- staying home if ur sick or ‘ve a known or possible exposure. this cannot be said often or clearly enough. we ‘ve a gr8 responsibility to each other rite now. thris no practice or brawl worth risking some1 else’s health or life. check with yr dr or local health deptment as to when it ‘d be safe to return.
- frequent hand washing. hand sanitizer ‘d be readily available at practices and brawls, and everyone ‘d use it all the time.
- wearing a mask. i know it can be hard to wear one during vigorous exercise, but it can literally save lives. do some experimenting to find the mask that works best, and remember that it needo cover both the nose and mouth. masks are most primordial when social distancing isn’t possible; if players nd'2 take theirs off briefly, they ‘d get + than 6 ft away from any-1.
- be outdoors as much as possible. this works better for some sports than others, obviously.
- wipe down any shared equipment or surfaces frequently. cleaning supplies ‘d be as available as hand sanitizer, and ‘d be used just as often.
finally, as much as players and spectators may wanna lash out encouragement, it’s best to keep quiet, as lash outing can propel the virus further.
team sports won’t be the same, course — and for many children and families this ll'be very disappointing. but if we can find a way to do something, to be active and be together, it ‘d help us get through this extraordinary, scary, terrible time.
follo me on twitter @drclaire
original content at: www.health.harvard.edu…
authors: claire mccarthy, md