It’s the elephant in the room — as kids return to play, Covid is still with us.
| 4 min read
Updated AUGUST 2021
As we embark on a huge, much-anticipated fall season, youth sports is still grappling with Covid-19. The challenges are both familiar and more frustrating than ever. Kids age 12 and up are eligible for vaccinations, but the vast majority of kids in rec league youth sports are not. And the Delta variant has, to borrow a term, changed the calculus every parent does when they send their kids out into the world.
Parents with young athletes too young to vaccinate weigh the risks every day. What’s worse — the potential for Covid infection in a young person, or another season without the social, emotional, physical and psychological benefits that sport provides?
Here’s what we know:
Outdoors remains the safest place for the unvaccinated.
As Dr. Leanna Wen — medical expert and former Baltimore health commissioner — wrote in the Washington Post, there are relatively few documented cases of outdoor coronavirus transmission. That means outdoor youth sports — soccer, football, baseball — are safer than indoor sports, like hockey or wrestling.
Close proximity and duration still matter, though — inside or out.
Masks make a difference.
In the spring, masks became part of the uniform for many youth sports — and, depending on where you live, they may be again this fall, depending on the incidence of Covid infections and also the sport. (In Connecticut, for instance, volleyball players must wear masks during practice, games and “all events around active play,” while soccer players do not — unless they’re playing indoors.) The situation — like so many things with the pandemic — is fluid.
Writes Wen, “I would feel comfortable with children not wearing masks when playing outside or participating in outdoor sports. Allowing kids to unmask outdoors also emphasizes that it’s indoors where masks are crucial.“
What happens before and after games and practice matters, too.
Youth sports are social. That’s part of the point.
So, while there are often guidelines for what happens during practice and games, what about all those moments before and after? “It would be a shame if kids were careful during a soccer match only to let down their guard in locker rooms, or if choir practice took place with masks only for them to come off during the pizza party after,” writes Dr. Wen. Her suggestion? To apply the same level of vigilance.
The Covid situation is different in different places.
What works for soccer practice in urban New York City is not what works for soccer tournaments in suburban Seattle or what works in flag football practice in rural Nebraska. Covid protocols are established by leagues and community organizations, cities, counties and states, which is where parents must look first for the most appropriate guidance.
At MOJO, we believe the decision to play is up to you. Armed with the best information, moms and dads will make the right decisions for their kids.
While MOJO doesn’t take a position on the return to play, we do stand ready to support you whenever you decide to go back out on the field.
Ultimately, we believe that with vaccinations and better control of Covid more kids will get to play again — safely and joyfully. All that pent-up energy will burst forth in exciting and positive ways.
MOJO is here to help at every step of your journey.
Many of the activities in the MOJO app have Covid variations, to help players build skills, have fun and be safe, all at the same time. Every video was filmed safely, with protocols that strictly followed public health guidelines. And MOJO’s new At Home training for soccer and flag football are a great way to keep kids active and engaged when they can’t play or practice.
MOJO will also share trusted resources (like the ones below) that can help guide your thinking about how to coach and play safely.
At MOJO, we put health and safety first — because once they’re covered, you’re ready for the fun stuff.