Sports and COVID-19
Everything remains subject to change, so keep posted at your respective pro or college team’s website and keep watching the news.
On the scholastic level, check your conference or state’s COVID rules. Connecticut’s high school sanctioning body, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference (CIAC), requires all student athletes to wear masks for all indoor sports, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated athletes, however, must quarantine for at least 10 days if they contract COVID-19 or have any symptoms.
What factors influence the risk of reopening sports during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Community levels of COVID-19cases. High case levels in the local community increase substantially the risk of infection among youth athletes. In turn, risk declines with low community case rates.
- No physical distancing between players. Close-contact sports that do not permit players to physically distance pose higher risks.
- Intensity level of the sport. High intensity activities pose a more risk, particularly when indoors, due to heavy and rapid breathing, shouting, proximity of players.
- Length of time with close contact. Longer practices/games pose more risk than do shorter time periods.
- Indoor sport venues. Sports participants are at higher risk of getting COVID-19 playing indoors compared to outdoors.
- Shared equipment (e.g., protective gear, balls, bats, mats, or water bottles). Avoiding shared equipment can reduce the risk of COVID-19 spread.
- Team size. Larger numbers of players may increase the likelihood of getting COVID-19. Lowering the number of players/coaches at a game or practice can reduce risks.
- Behavior of the athletes on AND off the field. Adherence to safety behaviors (masks, hand hygiene, physical distancing) is key to reduce disease transmission. Many sports teams have off-the-field social events that can carry risk when masks and physical distancing are not practiced with fidelity, or eating is involved, such that masks cannot be used.
What are the different risk categories for sports activities?
Higher-Risk Sports involve prolonged, close contact between players, lack of significant protective barriers, and high probability that respiratory particles will be transmitted between participants.
- Martial arts
Moderate-Risk Sports involve intermittent close contact OR group sports OR sports that do not share equipment.
- High/Long Jump
Lower-Risk Sports can be played while physically distancing and with shared equipment.
- Cross Country
- Weight Lifting
What are the different risk tiers for youth sports?
Sports can be divided into the following risk groups (in order of risk):
- Tier 1 (LOWEST RISK). Individual one-to-one training, Small group aerobic conditioning, Small group sport-specific non-contact skill development drills
- Tier 2 Team practices, Intra-squad scrimmages
- Tier 3 Interscholastic or in-state meets (2 teams)
- Tier 4 In-state multi-team meets or tournaments
Tier 5 (HIGHEST RISK). Interscholastic or other contests between teams from different states or teams that include athletes from different states.