CREDIBLE SOURCES ON COVID-19
COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on youth sports. By examining different credible information sources, the NAofA has begun to deliberate on when and how to reintroduce organized activities. Project Play, an initiative of the Aspen Institute’s Sports & Society Program, believes that there are four factors shaping our decisions. These four factors are: (1) what the local and state authorities allow, (2) what leading sport and public health bodies recommend, (3) what liability risks exist, and (4) what parents and the immediate community will accept. These four factors go hand in hand when preparing for the successful and safe return of youth sports.
REGULATIONS FOR YOUTH SPORTS
The Council of State Governments has created an interactive tool for tracking State Reopening Plans. It has credible information on the current guidelines for all 50 States. Still, every region has extensively different variables at play. The regulations that local authorities have established should be at the forefront of our minds.
Aside from the governing entities, public health bodies have ample resources that shed light on safe procedures for athletic programs. CDC Youth Sports Checklist for COVID-19 illustrates a step-by-step guide for re-opening and monitoring our youth programs and camps. Also, leading sports bodies have acknowledged that every sport comes with its own set of implications. Therefore, we must treat each one on a case-by-case basis. The Aspen Institute generated a Sports Return To Play Risk Assessment. This assessment tool evaluates low, medium, and high-risk behaviors when participating in a specific sport. This resource will be updated on a weekly basis with changes and additional sports and activities. In addition to the varying degree of risk in each activity, it is important to note that some sports have lower risk than others and those might start earlier.
MINDFUL OF IMPACT ON LIABILITIES
COVID-19’s impact includes additional liabilities that agencies should be mindful of. Steven Bank is a UCLA School of Law Vice Dean and sports liability expert who weighed in on this topic. He stated that receiving an all-clear from Public Health Authorities is not an all-clear for your liability risk legally. He continued to say, “In order to safely open youth sports programs, we have a duty to apply a degree of caution that a reasonable person would practice in order to decrease our company’s risk. What is considered reasonable is subjective, so following our local instructions and community norms can be our best guide.” In Steven Bank’s portion of Project Play’s Discussion Video, he emphasizes that new waivers for COVID-19 should be crafted and presented to the customer separate from previous ones.