Registration for spring sports is happening now, but as COVID-19 continues to affect communities across the nation, The American Academy of Pediatrics is issuing a word of caution: take it and keep it outside to keep everyone safe.
"I want kids to play sports and to exercise, but we need to do it safely," Dr. Tanya Altmann said. "And that may depend on where around the country you're located." says
Dr. Altmann is a Los Angeles area pediatrician and a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
She has been and continues to be an advocate of keeping kids active and in school, but she's also the first to say it has got to be safe.
"We know anything outdoors is safer than indoors -ideally, your kid will be playing a sport outdoors, still distanced, separated from their teammates, and wearing masks as long as there's a sport where you can be wearing masks."
In most areas of the country, the transmission rate is just too high to play inside. But that certainly takes a lot of activities off the table.
"If you have to do a sport indoors, it needs to be non-contact, distanced, wearing a mask, not many spectators in the room, and following all the precautions we can, keeping the team together in a cohort, maybe testing before."
Executive Director of the National Alliance for Youth Sports John Engh says playing close contact sports will be different for those who don't.
"If your son or daughter is into wrestling or something that's a close contact sport, you may have a little more time to wait than somebody who's playing softball or baseball or volleyball sports that we can control a little better and be safe," Engh said.
The organization has been helping kids play since 1981.
"The idea was to work with the recreation department to come up with a program to train them in the basic fundamentals of the sport but more importantly to train the parents of what they're going to have to deal with," Engh said.
2020 hit them hard, as program after program got canceled.
Now, they're trying to help everyone move forward in 2021.
"From a national organization perspective, we're doing basically what we can do, which is to follow the CDC guidelines," Engh said. "Everybody is calling us every week, our organization saying can we start-up and, of course, we can't say yes you can start we're doing exactly what they're saying."
Engh's best advice is to follow what's happening in your local community and your local government, ultimately taking direction from the CDC.
"You can do team conditioning, spaced out, or outdoors," Dr. Altmann said. "We might not be able to do competition sports for certain sports this year that have to be indoors, and the kids have to be close to each other, and that's okay. Keep exercising, doing your conditioning, and we will get back there as we all work together to decrease the numbers in our country."
While that may be disappointing for some, it's a reminder that we won't get infection rates down unless we all agree to level the playing field by playing it safe.