Are Sports For Kids Safe Right Now? Experts Weigh In
With every state in some form of reopening, camps, sports, and clubs have been reopening as well. But parents are still concerned about the virus. Is it really safe for kids to play sports right now?
With cases of COVID skyrocketing across most of the country, parents are rethinking their original plans for their children's summer and fall group activities, and for good reason. I contacted pediatrician Dr. Leann Poston, and she tells Romper, "Unfortunately, nothing is really safe. There is a risk involved in no matter what you do." Instead, she says you need to weigh the risks and benefits for your own family, and if the benefits outweigh the risks, go ahead and do it. If you're in a COVID hotspot and someone in your household has heart failure, you're likely already planning to keep little Skylar from his biweekly game of competitive Twister, right? But what if everyone is healthy? How do you decide?
"When you are making your risks versus benefits assessment for your family and your children, don't forget the non-COVID related risks from abstaining from sports, including lack of exercise and the loss of mental health benefits, life-lessons, teamwork, building friendships — are all risks of choosing not to play sports if your child wants to play," Poston says.
Which is exactly where I find myself. New York has done a bang-up job of knocking down our COVID numbers, and my daughter is a sports fanatic. Softball, soccer, swimming — she loves it all. These months have been really hard on her, and she's aching to get back to her activity. But I am terrified of another April, where my Facebook timeline looked like an obituary column, and the sounds of sirens rang day and night.
Pediatrician Dr.Amna Husain tells Romper that there are levels of risk involved in all sports, but some are riskier than others. "As of now, outdoor sports are the safest, as the risk of transmission is so much lower outdoors than indoor sporting events." However, of those outdoor sports, contactless sports like golf, or socially distanced swimming, are going to be safer than sports like soccer or softball. In any case where the children are going to be in close contact, she says that masks must be worn. (But never ever in the water, for obvious reasons.)
Husain cautions that "preparations for play must include staggered schedules, screening, equipment cleaning, and sanitation." And that athletes should be encouraged to bring their own water bottles and equipment to practice, minimizing the need to share. On top of that, coaches and assistants should mask up, and spectators need to keep the heck away from each other.
Nothing is 100% safe, but with the proper precautions, you can make things just a little bit more secure.