COVID-19 and the Return of Sports

 

COVID-19 changed many things for many people. At the beginning of 2020, many of us were suddenly confronted with widespread shutdowns, shuttered restaurants and shopping malls, and an inability to see friends or gather with the people we love. One of the most pronounced impacts of COVID-19, however, was on the sports world. 

Fortunately, the sports world is beginning to rebound. As the COVID-19 pandemic starts to ebb off, and American adults become fully vaccinated in higher numbers, sports are slowly returning to their former state, and high school sports fans everywhere are rejoicing.

In this post, we’ll discuss what you need to know about COVID-19, high school sports and recruiting, as it stands today, and how to start enjoying sports once more. 

How COVID-19 Changed High  School Sports

In many places across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic simply put an end to high school sports. The shutdown left fields, bleachers, and locker rooms empty while students, coaches, and athletic directors wondered just how long the pause on sports would last. 

 

Without a doubt, indoor sports were the hardest hit. Places like California implemented strict  COVID regulations that took volleyball and basketball games off the calendar. 

 

This was problematic for a number of reasons. 

 

In addition to impacting the mental health and physical conditioning of high school athletes, it also altered recruitment plans for many of them. High schools themselves also felt the impact. 

 

Schools across the country were forced to confront financial pinches - driven largely by decreasing revenue from non-existent ticket sales. To cope, many schools started to lean on booster clubs to cover things like maintenance and uniforms. 

 

After a grim winter full of rising case numbers and standstill sports calendars, hard-hit states finally began to revise guidelines - allowing high-contact outdoor sports and water-based sports to return for truncated seasons. 

 

As spring rounded the corner, and the year moved into 2021, high schools across the country have begun to slowly reintroduce sports. Girls and boys basketball programs are starting, for example, and outdoor sports are taking place full-swing, in most places. 

 

Returning to High School Sports After COVID-19

While the COVID-19-related changes to the sports world were pronounced, there are “signs of life” throughout the country, especially where high school sports are concerned. 

 

Hospitals and health organizations across the country are releasing guidance about how young athletes can safely return to playing sports. Here are some of the primary recommendations from the National Federation of State High School Associations and the Sports Medicine (NFHS) Advisory Committee (SMAC):

 

  • Conduct pre-workout screenings. The NFHS recommends that all coaches and students be screened for COVID-19 before working out, training, or playing in a game. All responses and screening results should be recorded, and any person with positive symptoms should not be allowed to participate in sports. 
  • Limit gatherings. As of April 1, 2021, the NFHS recommended that indoor workouts should be conducted in small pods of students, numbering 5-10 at any given time and that social distancing should be maintained, and that outdoor gatherings be limited to 50 people. 
  • Comprehensive cleaning. The NFHS recommends regular cleaning for athletic facilities, including sanitizing before games, practices, and gatherings. The NFHS also recommends that student-athletes do not share equipment including towels and sports-specific equipment.

 

For more information on the NFHS’s guidelines regarding high school sports, click here

 

While the return of high school sports is slow, these are positive signs that indicate the return of games and practices for coaches and athletes alike. 

 

Here at Level Up Sports, we look forward to the reopening of high school sports events, and the ability of fans to return to the games and events they love. In the meantime, we’re proud to continue helping athletes, coaches, and sports pros connect and communicate via our convenient LUS app. 


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