A healthy living blog from Marshfield Clinic

Youth sports and COVID-19: Safety is key for returning to play

Pro sports organizations such as the National Basketball Association are announcing their plans to return from COVID-19. When will high school and youth sports follow suit?

The COVID-19 pandemic put sports at every level of competition on hold. But as professional organizations such as the National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball return to play, the question becomes – will high school and youth sports follow suit?

Sports Medicine Physician Dr. Laurel Rudolph said that each level is regulated by a different governing body and is played in a unique environment.

Rudolph, director of Sports Medicine, Marshfield Clinic Health System, highlighted factors such as crowd size, player access, testing and finances that vary quite a bit when comparing professional and youth sports. These differences can greatly impact the guidelines set by each level.

Preparing for a safe return

The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) is the governing body for Wisconsin high school sports while youth sports leagues have local youth organizations and parks and rec departments that are responsible for these types of decisions.

The WIAA has published revised guidelines for the upcoming sports season that includes an updated calendar of events and COVID-19 considerations. Schools have until September 1 to declare whether they plan to participate in the traditional fall sports season or an alternative fall sports season that will take place in Spring 2021. This date has been set for planning purposes.

How to stay up-to-date

The situation is evolving constantly, with new guidelines and scheduling changes being announced weekly. So, what’s the best way to stay? in the loop?

The best resource for middle and high school athletes and their parents is their respective school administrators.

For youth programs, it would be best to contact the local organization directly to get the latest updates.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a helpful guide on principles to keep in mind and how to assess risk regarding youth sports.

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