Families all over the country are beginning to recover from the pandemic. Parents are returning to their workplace after months of working remotely, children are transitioning back to daycare or summer care programs, and we are beginning to venture outside of our “safe place” that we have set for ourselves and our loved ones. We, as parents, are seeking some type of normalcy for our kids. For many, that means a return to sports or organized play. But what exactly does that look like?
State and local authorities have released guidelines that allow youth sports leagues to resume activities. While there is indeed excitement about the prospect of bringing youth sports back to kids, families, and communities, we need to ensure that we are moving forward with caution. Leagues must maintain incredibly high standards for safety and health during this time of reopening.
As a mom, the Covid-19 pandemic has been stressful. We all want what is best for our kids. Maintaining a balance between safety and good mental and physical health can be challenging. My kids are athletes and they all missed being out on the field, missed the competition and certainly missed the socializing with their teammates.
Being without organized team sports for months made me realize just how exercise and team sports was a much needed, healthy way to cope with stress and connect with the community. After careful thought as a parent I watched my two sons return to football and lacrosse this month. I was well informed, and impressed, by the athletic staff at the high school as to the precautions that were being taken.
The health and safety of the athletes, staff, and volunteers should be the athletic organizations highest priority. Here are some things to consider to ensure the organization is helping to lower COVID-19 risk as much as possible while also allowing athletes to play.
What is the organization requiring athletes to do? How are they keeping your athlete safe? Some general guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control for return to play include, but are not limited to, are:
- Wash your hands frequently.
- Have hand sanitizer available at all times.
- No sharing of water, snacks or equipment.
- No shaking hands, high fives, fist bump, hugs, etc…
- Social distancing = six (6) feet apart.
- No player or coach can attend if they are feeling sick.
- Disinfect all training equipment – cones, goals, flags etc. – and only coaches can touch or move equipment.
- Coaches to wear a face mask as per CDC/ Dept. of Health at all times.
- Each ball sanitized before/after every practice or game.
- Minimize contact with other teams before, during and after each session.
One organization that is taking all the necessary precautions to get their athletes back on the field is National Flag Football. NFF has 131 leagues in 13 different states. They have spent months researching and communicating with the CDC, state health departments and local municipalities to ensure their return is in the best interest of the athletes.
Executive Director, Kathleen Forsyth, is looking forward to seeing the leagues back in action and understands what being a part of a team means to the athletes. “Not feeling secluded and alone, we are a social species and need to embrace safe interaction.” She hopes that being on a flag football team gives them a feeling of being a part of something bigger than themselves. “Understanding what it means to support a teammate through good and bad, learning how to interact with all types of personalities and still having a team atmosphere.” All things that were absent for many during the months of quarantine.
If you are looking to transition your child back into sports this fall, consider flag football. Executive Director Francis Meram touts the fact that National Flag Football is a one day commitment, just an hour of practice followed by a game. “It’s easy, it’s fun and it’s a great way to be active without sacrificing a ton of time.” NFF leagues are for boys and girls ages 4-14. Most leagues run on Sundays, with a two hour commitment.