Is it Safe to Return to Youth Sports?

July 2020

Allowing children to come into close contact with others might still seem a bit scary, but will soon be a reality for some young athletes as New Jersey begins to ease restrictions on youth sports. State by state, the decision is being made as to whether or not youth sports are able to resume, and under what restrictions, timeline and guidelines. So, is it safe to send your child back onto the field, court, or into the pool?

The New Jersey Department of Health has released COVID guidance for parents, coaches and athletic facilities and administrators. Although all athletic participants and families are required to comply with these set rules of conduct, the decision as to whether or not the return to youth sports feels safe lies ultimately with the parents. Every household is different and needs to consider their own personal circumstances and COVID-sensitivity before making that decision. If the thought of close contact with a group of peers sends your anxiety level through the roof, read on, and commit to having a conversation with your family and your sports community before opting in.

Individual sports’ communities are expected to share the protocols being administered, along with participant requirements, in order to maintain a healthy environment for their respective athletes. Be prepared to sign a waiver releasing the organization from any liability or legal implications related to COVID, but be sure you are comfortable with the level of safety measures provided. Offering tips for players, parents and coaches on how to stay safe while participating in sporting activities, including a low risk to high-risk breakdown of activities, the CDC site provides up-to-date information worth consulting regularly. If you have any doubts or questions as to the safety of the playing environment, be sure to address it with the organization prior to signing the waiver or the start of the season.

As with any other activity where there will be prolonged interaction with others outside of the household, parents will need to assess the individual risk factors involved with their child’s participation. But do the advantages of reengaging in athletic activities outweigh the risks? Team sports provide a myriad of benefits for our children including physical activity, social interaction, team building skills and a boost in self-esteem, to name a few. Not to mention a return to some sense of normalcy following the challenges of the last few months.

Should you allow your child to return to the playing field, the CDC has also released a set of guidelines and considerations for both parents and coaches to take into account before committing to play. A few additional sites (found below) contain valuable information for making an informed decision regarding your children’s participation in youth sports. Whatever arrangement you and your family come to, stay informed on the latest guidelines and allowances, acknowledge your level of comfort and keep the best interests of your children at heart.


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