COVID-19 Risk Appraisal for Youth Sports

Are you concerned about your young athlete returning to organized sports, especially those activities where social distancing is at odds with mixing it up on the field or going mano-a-mano in the gym?

As you might have guessed, not all sports are created equal when it comes to the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The National Federation of State High School Associations’ Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recently released guidelines to help parents and high school administrators evaluate the risk of infection by sport. Following is their breakdown by risk level:

Higher risk sports “involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack significant protective barriers, and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants. Examples include wrestling, football, boys’ lacrosse, competitive cheer, and dance.”

Moderate risk sports “involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants. Examples include basketball, volleyball, baseball, soccer, water polo, gymnastics, ice hockey, field hockey, tennis, swimming relays, pole vault, high jump, long jump, girls’ lacrosse, crew with two or more rowers in shell, 7-on-7 football.”

Lower risk sports “can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors. Examples include individual running events, throwing events (javelin, shot put, discus), individual swimming, golf, weightlifting, skiing, sideline cheer, cross-country running (with staggered starts).”

In addition to the risk assessment, the guidelines provide extensive safety protocols for coaches and administrators tasked with opening up high-school athletic programs and monitoring the athletics when school begins again.

Let the games begin.

To learn more, see Guidance for Opening Up High School Athletics and Activities.