Youth sports are back in Michigan…with restrictions
One of the many great disappointments during the pandemic was the loss of sports. From preschool t-ball to professional sports, being active and on a team is such an important part of so many lives. And those that don’t participate, spectate! The rules of the game have changed several times since the beginning of the pandemic, most recently with the resumption of contact sports for Michigan youth.
Beginning February 8th, in-person practice and competitions for sports leagues are now allowed…with some restrictions. For contact sports to resume, masks must be worn at all times during practices and competition. If masks can’t be worn during play, participants must be regularly tested for COVID-19, consistent with MDHHS’s Testing and Additional Mitigation Measures for Athletic Practice and Play guidance according to the state.
If your or your child’s sport of choice is non-contact and played outdoors where the athletes can maintain a social distance, masks will not be required. For all other sports, indoor or outdoor, masks or testing protocol will be required.
Following the guidance outlined by the state is crucial to stop the spread of the virus among athletes and spectators. There will be less people in the stands – up to 250 people are allowed in stadiums that seat fewer than 10,000 people, and up to 500 people are allowed at venues that seat more than 10,000 people, and those that do attend will also need to wear a mask at all times.
General Mitigation Measures for Athletics from the state of Michigan:
Wear a face mask at all times in practice and competition.*
Wash hands frequently and cover coughs and sneezes.
Use separate equipment as much as possible. Frequently clean and disinfect any shared equipment and surfaces.
See the MDHHS Guidance for Athletics for more recommendations to mitigate risk and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in sports.
*Exceptions are for athletes in contact sports where face masks pose a safety hazard. In these situations, additional mitigation measures, including testing before unmasked play, are required. Please see the MDHHS Guidance for Athletics for more information
How to reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure while playing
Many youth sports leagues are easing back into practice and
in some cases competition. While it’s a much-welcomed change after a summer of
quarantine, whatever you or your children play, you should play it safe. There
are a number of steps you can take to help lower the risk of COVID-19 exposure
and reduce the spread while playing sports. The more people a participant
interacts with, the closer the physical interaction, the more sharing of
equipment there is by multiple players, and the longer the interaction, the
higher the risk of COVID-19 spread. Therefore, risk of COVID-19 spread can be
different, depending on the type of activity. Read on for guidance from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Make a game plan to reduce risk
Lowest Risk: Performing skill-building drills or
conditioning at home, alone or with members of the same household
Increasing Risk: Team-based practice
More Risk: Within-team competition
Higher Risk: Full competition between teams from
the same local geographic area (e.g., city or county)
Highest Risk: Full competition between teams
from different geographic areas (e.g., outside county or state)
If organizations are not able to keep safety
measures in place during competition (for example, keeping participants six
feet apart at all times), they may consider limiting participation to
within-team competition only (for example, scrimmages between members of the
same team) or team-based practices only
Similarly, if organizations are unable to put in
place safety measures during team-based activities, they may choose individual
or at-home activities, especially if any members of the team are at an
increased risk for severe illness
Prepare before you participate
Bring supplies to help you and others stay
healthy—for example, masks (bring extra), hand sanitizer with at least 60%
alcohol, broad spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher, and drinking water.
Prioritize participating in outdoor activities
over indoor activities and stay within your local area as much as possible.
If using an indoor facility, allow previous
groups to leave the facility before entering with your team. If possible, allow
time for cleaning and/or disinfecting.
Check the league’s COVID-19 prevention practices
before you go to make sure they have steps in place to prevent the spread of
If you are at an increased risk for severe
illness or have existing health conditions, take extra precautions and preventive
actions during the activity or choose individual or at-home activities.
Stay home if sick
If the participant has symptoms of COVID-19, has been
diagnosed with COVID-19, is waiting for COVID-19 test results, or may have been
exposed to someone with COVID-19, they should stay home and not participate in
Have smaller team sizes
Sports with a large number of players on a team
may increase the likelihood of spread compared to sports with fewer team
Limit your team to a core group of participants,
by restricting non-team players from joining when your team is short players
and not adding new members during the season.
Reduce physical closeness between players when possible
Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and
your teammates, other competitors, and officials while actively participating
in the sport.
Focus on building individual skills, like
batting, dribbling, kicking, and strength training.
Avoid high fives, handshakes, fist bumps or
Keep space between players in the practice
areas, including on the sideline, dugout, and bench.
Wait in car or away from the playing area until
just before the warm-up period or the beginning of the game.
Avoid congregating in the parking lot or near
the field before or after games.
If it is not possible to avoid congregating,
practice social distancing by ensuring there is at least 6 feet between
If social distancing is not possible, wear a
mask whenever possible to reduce risk of virus transmission.
Space out spectators by 6 feet
Limit nonessential visitors, spectators, and
volunteers. Ensure they wear masks and maintain social distancing.
Wear a mask if possible
Wear a mask if feasible, especially when it is
difficult to stay less than 6 feet apart from other people or indoors, for
example in close contact sports such as basketball.
Lower intensity sports: Emphasize wearing masks
and practicing social distancing for lower intensity sports.
Higher intensity sports: People who are engaged
in high intensity activities, like running, may not be able to wear a mask if
it causes difficulty breathing.
If unable to wear a mask, consider conducting
the activity in a location with greater ventilation and air exchange (for
instance, outdoors versus indoors) and where it is possible to maintain
physical distance from others.
In situations where individuals might raise
their voices, such as shouting or chanting, we strongly encourage wearing
For youth athletes, parents, coaches, and sports
administrators should decide if the kids need to wear a mask.
It is not known if face shields provide any
benefit as source control to protect others from the spray of respiratory
particles. CDC does not recommend use of face shields for normal everyday activities
or as a substitute for masks.
Minimize sharing of equipment or gear
Encourage players to bring their own equipment
if possible, like gloves, balls, and helmets.
Limit the use of frequently touched surfaces on
the field, court, or play surface.
Bring your own water to minimize use and
touching of drinking fountains.
Clean and disinfect shared items between use.
Don’t share towels, clothing, or any items used
to wipe your face or hands.
Avoid sharing food, drink containers (e.g.,
coolers), and utensils.
Cover your coughs and sneezes.
When coughing or sneezing, use a tissue or the
inside of your elbow. Used tissues should be thrown away and hands washed
immediately with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer
with 60% alcohol.
If soap and water are not readily available,
hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol can be used.
Wash your hands with soap and water for at least
20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol.
Before and after you play.
Before adjusting your mask—review information
about proper use, removal, and washing of masks.
Limit travel outside of your area
Consider competing against teams in your local
area (neighborhood, town, or community).
Checklist for coaches
Send a welcome email or call parents (for youth players) and/or players. Inform them about actions that the sports program will take to protect players. Remind them to stay home if sick or if they have been around someone who is sick.
Be a role model. Wear a mask and encourage family members, fans, officials, and sports staff to wear one during practices and games.
Provide hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol to players before and after practice/game and encourage them to wash their hands with soap and water.
Educate players about covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue or their elbow. Discourage spitting.
youths practicing basketball
Encourage players to focus on building individual skills
Remind players about social distancing and identify markers (such as signage or tape on floor).
Encourage your players to focus on building their individual skills and cardiovascular conditioning, so they can limit close contact with other players.
Check with your sports administrator to make sure they are following cleaning and disinfection recommendations.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on field, court, or play surface (such as drinking fountains) at least daily or between use.
Clean and disinfect shared equipment.
If you have questions or concerns about your child participating in sports this fall, make an appointment to talk it over with yout pediatric provider.