Aug 10, 2020 / Sports Medicine

Is It Safe To Play Sports?

During this pandemic, thinking about the different activities you and your child will take part in have required extra thought to determine your safety. When it comes to our team, we are focused on helping answer the question – is it safe to play sports? This is an extremely complex question. 

Our sports medicine team believes there are extraordinary physical, emotional and social benefits from participation in sports. However, there are some serious risks to consider. In our almost 100 years as pediatric orthopedic specialists, Scottish Rite for Children does not provide treatment for symptoms of systemic or infectious diseases like COVID-19, but we are very concerned about how they affect our patients. 

When considering the young athletes we care for, we look at safety from several perspectives.

Physical Readiness
Is the athlete deconditioned from time away from sports? Gradually ramping up activity and tolerance to the heat are crucial first steps in returning to sports. All young athletes should have a preparticipation evaluation prior to the season starting. As we continue to learn about the long-term impact of COVID-19, this may be especially important for those who have been infected.

Individual Accountability and Risk Assessment
Does the athlete know how to reduce his or her risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19? Does he or she have a specific medical condition or does a close contact have greater risk or symptoms of COVID-19? Athletes need to take this seriously. Promoting positive behavior can have a dramatic impact on the team’s ability to continue practice and competition. 

Download this checklist to review with your athlete.

Team Approach
Is the team ready to commit to good habits like social distancing and wearing masks on the sidelines and during team huddles?

Share this infographic with your team.

League Protocols
Has the league communicated safety guidelines? Informing all parties of guidelines and assigning accountability to reduce risk and promote success. Consider the risks associated with participation and how your league is addressing them.

Share this infographic with your team.

Local Guidelines
Do the local civic and health care leaders provide guidance for your area with youth sports in particular? These recommendations account for local circumstances and should be taken seriously.

National Guidance on Return to Sports
Countless individuals and organizations from professional sports leagues to municipal parks and recreation departments are coming together to consider the current and future state of sports. In a collaborative effort, health care and youth sports leaders are defining the risks associated with the many variables of youth sports.  Ultimately, each family will be making choices for their young athletes. Our team recommends using guidance from experts and tools to consider the situation in light of your family’s situation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) just released answers to many frequently asked questions and links to more useful resources on this topic.

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