ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — When we see a return of high school sports they’re likely to look a bit different and with several safety precautions in place. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released a set of guidelines to give state associations like the IHSA some guidance.
We could see coaches, officials and athletes in some sports wearing face coverings. For some athletes that might be only while they’re on the bench and sideline areas. If officials wear face coverings whistles won’t work. In that case they might use noisemakers such as airhorns to stop play.
Locker rooms would likely be closed at first. Athletes would show up to practices and games already in their workout gear or uniforms. They would then shower at home.
Social distancing would be encouraged at team meetings and on buses when teams travel.
Athletes and coaches would likely be screened before practices and games which would include having their temperatures taken.
Practices and workouts, at least in the early phases of reopening, could have athletes grouped into small pods of five to ten athletes. Also weights and other equipment would need to be wiped down thoroughly after each use.
Those are simply a few of the recommendations.
The NFHS also breaks sports down into risk categories. The high risk sports include wrestling, football, boys lacrosse and competitive cheer and dance because of the close and frequent contact involved in them.
The moderate risk sports include basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, tennis and soccer because there is also contact in those spots and athletes handle the same ball.
Sports considered to be low risk are cross country, track and field, swimming, golf, and sideline cheering.
The NFHS also created three tiers of individuals from essential to non-essential for athletic competitions. The Tier 1 group includes athletes, coaches, officials, event staff, medical staff and security. The Tier 2 group is the media. The Tier 3 group is spectators and vendors.
Again all of these are recommendations and guidelines only. State athletic associations are advised to work closely with their local and state health departments. The NFHS says it is essential to the physical and mental well-being of high school students that they return to athletic competition.