CLEVELAND, Ohio (WJW) — After a season on the sidelines several youth sports teams are preparing to get back in the game but it comes as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this week children could be spreading COVID-19 through sports.
The CDC director said the agency is monitoring the more contagious COVID-19 variants spreading in part due to after school activities including youth sports.
“You always have that underlying fear,” said Falita Barnes.
Barnes’ teenage daughter participates in track and field for the Cleveland Heights Tigers Youth Sports Association.
“It gets her out the house, too much seclusion from the world you could see a slight depression,” said Barnes. “I’m excited for her to get back out conditioning her body and being able to socialize with her friends.”
Michael Payne, president of Tigers Youth Sports Association, which also offers football, wrestling and cheerleading said social distancing will be critical along with communicating expectations to parents about safety protocols.
“We’re requiring all of our guests and fans to wear masks,” said Payne.
The CDC advises that youth sports activities should be limited and reduce time spent indoors where players could be in close contact with each other.
Coaches are taking extra safety measures this year because for many teams it’s their first time playing since the pandemic started.
“That is one of the reasons why we didn’t have any activities last year because we were concerned with the spread of the virus,” said Payne.
Daryl Lehman, president of Cleveland’s Tri-League Little League which serves about 200 kids ages 4 to 16 is preparing to get back on the field.
“Last summer Tri-League Little League was the first program in the city of Cleveland to officially pull the plug on our season we didn’t play at all last year.”
After a season on the bench parents should expect new rules for players and spectators.
“Our league will be issuing face masks reusable and re-washable face masks for all of our players managers and coaches,” said Lehman.
If cases make another dramatic spike Payne said he is prepared to make tough game time decisions.
“If it goes like last summer where we went into the warmer months, we had a surge, we’ll shut it down again,” he said.