The Implications of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Youth Sports and Risk Management
The Covid-19 pandemic has placed a heightened responsibility on youth sports organizations, coaches, families, and athletes to reduce transmission and to foster a safe environment for children to participate in youth sports.
The promise of a Covid-19 vaccine has now become a reality for adults, however, vaccines have not yet been approved for use in children, and it remains unknown when a pediatric vaccine will be available. Since it is more likely than not that children will largely remain unvaccinated by the start of the spring sports season, youth sports will remain in a precarious position for the foreseeable future. For youth sports organizations and communities planning to move forward in some fashion with youth sports in the upcoming seasons, there are certain risk management and litigation considerations to take into account.
As of today, there is no way to eliminate the risk of exposure to Covid-19. The more activities that one engages in, the greater the risk of exposure. Generally, when evaluating the risk of Covid-19 spread in a specific youth sport, one should consider numerous factors, including, but not limited to, the following: the community levels of Covid-19; the physical closeness of players; level of intensity of the activity; where the activity will occur; length of time that players are close to each other or staff; amount of necessary touching of shared equipment and gear; ability to engage in physical distancing while not actively engaged in play; the ages of the players; players at higher risk of developing severe illness; size of the team; nonessential visitors, spectators, and volunteers; travel outside of the local community; and behavior of athletes off the field.
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