Acknowledgement of infection risks
The decision to participate in sports and spectate at sporting events will be dependent on athletes, families, and sports clubs in concordance with rules and regulations from authorities. Participants and spectators should understand that social interaction and congregation increase the risk of individuals becoming ill from infection with SARS-CoV-2and potentially spreading the virus to family members and the community.
There is an elevated and quickly growing number of cases throughout the Kansas, Missouri and Kansas City Metro area, including in the adolescent population, which is concerning. The risk of spread increases with indoor sports, when unable to physically distance 6 feet or greater, with groups over 10 individuals including coaches, and if there are shared ventilation systems. With indoor sports like wrestling and basketball it is also hard to avoid breathing heavily in close contact with others, which is another increased risk.
If you have an underlying health condition, there may be an increased risk of participating in sports. Please contact your regular doctor before restarting your sports. Current known risk factors include increasing age, obesity with body mass index above 30, chronic lung disease including moderate, severe or uncontrolled asthma, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease, heart conditions and the immunocompromised.
Benefit of sports and responsibilities of the athlete
The participation in sport has known health benefits, including promoting physical fitness and mental wellness. Sports provide a social construct and interaction which is necessary in a time of uncertainty for our athletes. It is widely recognized that physical activity, performed for the right amount of time and intensity can provide benefits to the immune system. In addition, sports can provide a template for young athletes to learn concepts of teamwork, leadership, work ethic and integrity.
With these recognized benefits, we propose and recommend the following as schools, clubs and individuals consider returning to sport.
Athletes, families and participants in sports have a social and moral responsibility to report symptoms of COVID-19. Self-reporting all symptoms consistent with COVID-19 will not only decrease the spread but will also help keep athletes playing their sport. Coaches, administrators and parents should continue to encourage athletes to self-report any symptom.
Phased return to sports
First and foremost, several local health departments and/or unified governments in the Kansas City Metro area have recommended to not play indoor sports at this time. There is an elevated number of cases throughout the Kansas, Missouri and Kansas City Metro area, including in the adolescent population, which is concerning. The risk of spread increases with indoor sports, when unable to physically distance 6 feet or greater, with groups over 10 individuals including coaches, and if there are shared ventilation systems. Since this is a recommendation rather than an order, there are several areas, organizations, districts and schools moving forward with indoor sports.
All guidance, rules and regulations regarding the return of sports must be followed as set forth by the national, state, or local governments and health departments. All involved with making the decisions for return to sports should be up to date on government guidance and CDC recommendations. All facilities, coaches, leagues and tournament directors should monitor recommendations and directives set forth by national, state and local levels.
A thoughtful approach to exercise gives athletes a chance to acclimatize to the temperature and the intensity/duration of practices. This slow ramp up of exercise can decrease the injury risk and heat illness, in particular if they have an extended time away from sport.
In individuals who did not play fall or club sports, where practices and competitions have potentially been decreased, or have had an extended time away from sport, there is increased risk of deconditioning, putting the athlete at much higher risk for injury if pushed too hard too fast. Overtraining, defined as prolonged or excessive repetitive activity/workouts in efforts to “catch up,” does not allow the body to adjust and recover, which can lead to decreased performance and/or increased risk injury.
Plan your pre-season for post-pandemic
Do not attend OR participate in group/team sports or practice if:
- You are feeling ill. Symptoms of the coronavirus can include fever (temperature of 100.0 as defined by the CDC), cough, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms as outlined by the CDC website.
- If you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the prior 14 days.
- If unsure about whether to attend or participate in practice due to possible symptoms OR exposure, it is recommended you contact your health care provider.