By Ray Hamill — High school and community sports are going to have a very different look as they begin to return in the coming months.
Last week the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) released a document offering guidelines and recommendations on how to safely resume competition, suggesting a three-phase plan as a gradual return.
The NFHS, which is the governing body for the majority of high school athletics in the nation, suggests precautionary measures must take place before any contact play resumes.
In addition, the three-phase plan recommends the implementation of preventive measures if games are to be played in the fall, such as wearing face masks and social distancing, until a vaccine is readily available, or herd immunity is achieved.
Local high school sports have been on hold since March 11, and will definitely not return until the schools open their doors again.
Community sports, however, are beginning to see a return, with the Humboldt Eagles American Legion baseball teams holding tryouts this past week.
Other sports associations around the nation and the world are beginning to lift restrictions as they ease their way back.
Last week saw the return of Germany’s Bundesliga behind closed doors, the first major sports league to resume action, with many more expected to follow in June and July.
The NCAA announced on Friday that athletes in all sports can resume voluntary activities beginning June 1, after earlier lifting the restrictions for football and basketball.
On Saturday, it was reported that the NBA is in talks to resume play at Disney Complex in Orlando in July.
At the professional and at the collegiate level, playing games in neutral sites without fans and after limited practices will all have an effect on the competition, as discussed here …
In addition to the three phases of return, the 16-page NFHS document also splits all prep sports into three categories, ranging from lower risk to moderate risk to higher risk.
Lower risk sports, which “can be done with social distancing or individually with no sharing of equipment or the ability to clean the equipment between use by competitors,” include running events and cross country, individual swimming and golf.
Moderate risk sports are those “that involve close, sustained contact, but with protective equipment in place that may reduce the likelihood of respiratory particle transmission between participants OR intermittent close contact OR group sports OR sports that use equipment that can’t be cleaned between participants.”
They include among others, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics and tennis, many of the sports affected locally.
The higher risk sports are those that “involve close, sustained contact between participants, lack of significant protective barriers, and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.”
These include wrestling, football and competitive cheer and dance.
For the full document and the breakdown of all three phases, Click here …