Is It Protected To Play Sports activities Like Basketball? CDC Weighs In. : NPR

Fans watch the high school soccer game between Davison and Flint Powers Catholic on September 18, 2020 in Davison, Michigan. Nic Antaya / Getty Images Hide caption

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Fans watch the high school soccer game between Davison and Flint Powers Catholic on September 18, 2020 in Davison, Michigan.

Nic Antaya / Getty Images

High school graduate Audrianna Hill has been playing basketball since she was five. But this winter, as Covid-19 cases increased, chances were she might not get to play. Her school in Detroit has been virtual since the pandemic began, and basketball season has been postponed several times since September. Basketball is a huge part of her, and she has bet on her senior year of play to recruit them. The suspensions didn’t help.

“It made it harder for me to go to college,” said Hill, a college gamer. “Schools can’t come and actually watch you. You have to rely on technology, and I don’t know if there is any [college] Trainers want to see 50 [performance] Videos of different children. “

Student athletes like Hill are still hoping for a full season this year, but recent findings from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could work against them.

The new CDC guidelines, released on Friday, warn against resuming sporting activities – especially those that take place inside. The report says that for communities with significant transmission rates, sports and other activities should only be conducted “if they can be held outdoors physically 6 feet or more away”. High-rate communities should stick to virtual activities.

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A previous CDC report singled out activities where athletes do not have social distance and cannot wear masks. Sports such as swimming, wrestling, and, to Hill’s dismay, basketball are effectively excluded.

The report focuses on two wrestling tournaments held in an unnamed Florida county in early December. A total of 130 wrestlers, coaches and referees took part, representing 10 different high schools from three different counties. After the tournaments, local authorities learned that one participant had tested positive for the virus and subsequently confirmed 38 other cases of infection. (Only 54 participants were tested, which translates into a 70% positivity rate.) Details on social distancing and mask wear were not provided.

The report cites guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics that advise against wearing a mask when wrestling, cheerleading, gymnastics, and water sports because masks can create a choking hazard or make breathing difficult.

A CDC official told NPR that academics should be a priority as schools consider when to resume certain personal activities: “The focus should be on the educational needs of students. When it comes to extracurricular activities, if so Case is. ” It is problematic to perform these activities without taking the steps we know. We believe officials should consider delaying or postponing. “

Recommendations in the game

These recommendations are not always followed at the local level. While some school principals postponed the athletic season during the pandemic, others made progress.

In Louisiana, many K-12 schools have had both fall and winter sports seasons, and most are open to at least personal study.

Eddie Bonine, director of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association (LHSAA), has campaigned for the sport to continue despite worries about the social interactions that take place around it.

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“If all the athletes get into the game negatively, beat each other out of the way for three hours and then sit on the sidelines with your masks on,” he says, which shouldn’t cause an outbreak.

“It’s when they go [the field] is when there is a problem. “

It’s harder to control what happens at sporting events. Virus spread isn’t limited to athletic competitions – three CDC scientists recently wrote that outbreaks can also occur during exercises and social gatherings related to team sports such as cheer rallies.

Bonine says that’s exactly what happened in mid-January at the Louisiana Classic, a high school wrestling tournament in Gonzales, La., 30 minutes outside of Baton Rouge.

“It was set up for failure from the start,” says Bonine.

According to the host of the tournament, the event drew 365 wrestlers from 46 schools across the state and 703 spectators. Bonine says there was no grandstand and spectators crowded around the wrestling mats, trying to get close to the action.

“They wanted to see how close they can get to the mat just before they got an octagonal cage. It’s like that [Ultimate Fighting Championship]”Says Bonine, referring to the popular mixed martial arts competitions.

A week later, the state health department declared an outbreak related to the tournament. Health officials reported more than 20 cases of athletes, staff and participants who tested positive for the coronavirus.

The sport is currently suspended across the state to allow wrestlers to compete in the state championship tournament in late February. According to the organizers, the competition should take in more people than the classic – 700 wrestlers and up to 1,800 spectators per day.

Bonine says the upcoming competition will have more security precautions than the classic.

“No food will be served. No one will be on the floor but a wrestler. We’ve all separated – mitigation, wearing masks, social distancing with teams and players.”


In Pittsburgh, schools have been closed to face-to-face learning since November, but the sport has been on since the fall, with a break in December and January.

Karen Arnold, who oversees exercise programs for the Pittsburgh Public Schools, balances community safety with the urge to play. She says the district considered the CDC’s recommendations and ultimately decided that enough precautions had been taken to keep the athletics running safely.

“If people are doing what they’re supposed to do across the board, I’m confident we can go through that process,” she says. “When entire teams are closed, we have to sit down and discuss this with our health services department.”

Arnold adds that with the school still fully online, students felt crammed together and athletics was a necessary relief. “They were excited to come back,” she explains.

The decision was also a relief for the parents, who were anxious to get their children back to normal. The feeling was confirmed throughout the community: parents, students, coaches and community members started tweeting about the importance of school sports under the hashtag #LetThemPlay, says Arnold.

Athletes and coaches in Detroit have also used the hashtag. On February 4, they received good news: students could return to exercises and competitions. Shane Lawal, Audrianna Hills basketball coach, was relieved.

Before his students knew basketball was going to start again, he discovered that not playing was having a negative impact on their mental health. “They were definitely less motivated,” he explains.

But upon news that the suspension was lifted, he noticed an immediate change in morale – particularly in Hill.

“She was really sad and upset with the state of the season,” said Lawal. When Hill finally returned to court, he knew that something had changed. “She played so damn hard. She played like this was the only game she was going to play this year, you can tell for her – it’s her last chance.”

Eda Uzunlar is an intern at the NPR Education Desk.

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