Playing sports offers a host of benefits for kids, including boosting their confidence, something everyone could use more of these days. But is it safe, given the continued spread of the novel coronavirus?
It depends, according to new guidelines that the American Academy of Pediatrics released on Jul. 23.
“We recommend that parents talk to their pediatrician about the type of sport and setting, local disease activity and individual circumstances, such as an underlying health condition that places the athlete or family members at high risk,” says Susannah M. Briskin, M.D., F.A.A.P., who helped write the guidelines.
Even if your pediatrician clears your family for partaking, the risk isn’t nil this summer or fall. There are additional measures the AAP recommends that parents, kids and coaches take before hitting the field or the court:
Of course, the AAP recommends against athletes sharing food or drinks or attending practices or games if they have COVID-19 symptoms or a diagnosis—until their doctor clears them.
The AAP also reminds that children contract the virus less often than older people and have less-intense symptoms. Still, kids 10 and over spread the illness as well as adults, so athletes could infect coaches, officials and relatives.
Another reminder: Children should receive an annual checkup, preferably including a “preparticipation physical evaluation” or sports exam, Dr. Briskin says. “If kids have not been physically active for a lengthy period of time, they are at higher risk of an overuse injury.”
“We know that children are suffering without their usual sports activities this summer and would really like to see them regain some of the fun and healthy benefits of athletics and games,” Dr. Briskin adds. “By following safety precautions, we can work toward minimizing risk and allowing some return to the sports activities.”
The AAP’s full recommendations can be found at the links below: