Springtime Sports and COVID-19 Safety

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Afrida Raidah

Mill Creek High School’s girl’s soccer team during their 2021 spring season. The bleachers are lacking in large numbers of spectators, and the players . . .

COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths are extremely high across the United States. To decrease your chance of getting and spreading COVID-19, CDC recommends that you do not gather with people who do not live with you at this time. Attending events and gatherings increases your risk of getting and spreading COVID-19. Stay home to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

It is springtime again at Mill Creek High School, meaning it has officially been a full year since COVID-19 entered the global scene and forced people everywhere to readjust almost everything about their routines and traditions.

Schools closed, jobs lost, parties cancelled and sports seasons postponed and rescheduled.

Now that COVID has become more normalized, and the U.S. more willing to cut corners, guidelines concerning quarantine and self-isolation are much more relaxed, meaning school and sports are back on. However, just because crowded sports venues are not as restricted anymore, doesn’t make them any less risky. Masks and social distancing are still suggested and mostly enforced.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) in their article, “Considerations for Youth Sports Administrators”, every community’s situation is unique, so the word of local and state health officials should be considered before all else.

“The following considerations are meant to supplement – not replace – any state, local, territorial, or tribal health and safety laws, rules, and regulations with which youth sports organizations must comply.” they said.

This very article holds many suggestions as to how to adjust sports to be as safe as possible for COVID-19.

Mill Creek High School’s COVID-19 regulations are probably something students are already fairly familiar with:

Maintain social distancing as much as possible, wear masks at all times, and follow the arrow stickers in the hallway during class transitions and et cetera.

. . .

According to the CDC, physical closeness of players, especially in close-contact sports like soccer, basketball, or football, makes physical distancing more difficult.

They suggest modifying play to limit contact, or making practices focus on individual skill building as opposed to competition.

“Coaches may [also] put players into small groups (cohorts) that remain together and work through stations, rather than switching groups or mixing groups,” they said.

The CDC states that high intensity sports or activities are much more risky in terms of contracting COVID-19 than lower intensity activities.

“Higher intensity activities are safer when done outdoors,” the CDC said. It would seem sports players such as wrestlers and basketball players are most affected by this advice, and their sports seasons typically end around or right before actual springtime.

Other factors that “Considerations for Youth Sports” by the CDC acknowledges as increased risk include team size, travelling outside the local area, players of high-risk to illness, sharing equipment, and several more. COVID-19 is dangerous after all.

As well as suggestions for players and staff, the CDC also provides input on how spectators should conduct themselves while at sports games during COVID-19, in their article “Attending Sporting Events”.

Many of the suggestions include advice that most everyone adheres to almost all the time: covering your nose and mouth with a face mask, social distancing with those who do not live with you, avoiding indoor spaces with poor ventilation, staying home when you’re sick, and consistently washing your hands.

Just as it is with players, outdoor events are much safer than indoor events.

Simply staying at home with close household members while spectating of course poses the lowest risk, while tailgating and physically attending the event is more dangerous, especially if they do not follow the suggestions listed above.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 is spread by food. However, being in close contact to people poses a risk, such as when gathering around food service areas,” says the CDC. They also suggest keeping eating relegated to the outdoors, and maintaining social distancing even when you remove your mask to eat.

“Take extra precaution if attending a large sporting event in a rural area, as public health and healthcare infrastructure may be limited if an outbreak does occur,” is advice from the CDC as to how to prepare before the sports event itself.

Enjoy springtime sports and all that they entail, and stay up to date on the best ways to keep you and your community safe from a worsened pandemic.