The untimely clash of team sports and a rampant virus is forcing a balancing act as many schools reopen for the fall season.
Despite close quarters, high perspiration and possible contamination, many schools and colleges have decided to open their doors and go forward with in-person sports. One of these universities is Baylor College, where basketball, baseball, tennis, etc., will start up again for the 2020 fall semester.
Adapting for the New Reality – Precautions
Irvin Sulapas, MD, is a primary care sports medicine physician and assistant professor of family and community medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. In a news release from the school, Dr. Sulapas suggested many crucial alterations to these programs as they handle the continuing pandemic. He believes that through maintaining good hygiene and keeping distance from other players, the threat of spreading the coronavirus can be lessened.
A good place to start is by bringing your own water bottles, not sharing equipment, and staying home if you are sick, he said. Disinfecting of gear, and of the players themselves is at the utmost of importance as well.
As far as keeping distance from other members of the team, Dr. Sulapas recommended keeping practice outdoors, limiting the amount of people in one area, and wearing a mask whenever possible.
“It’s important that everyone who is attending practices or games remembers to wear a mask – we have seen cases of kids contracting COVID-19 and also cases of young adults and kids who may be asymptomatic carriers,” Dr. Sulapas pointed out.
Not Everyone Agrees Though
Other experts don’t agree with resuming sports yet. They feel that even precautionary measures are not enough to prevent the ultimate spreading of the virus through school sports.
William Keough, MD, co-chair of the Advocacy Committee of the PA Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, doubts that schools will have the resources to truly protect students.
In a PennLive article, Dr. Keough stated that he feels the risks outweigh the benefits of in-person school sports for the fall. He believes that testing is the number one priority, but that many schools do not have mass testing readily available. Due to these facts, students’ lives would be at risk on a daily basis.
In recommending ways in which schools make these decisions, Dr. Keough goes back to the basics of medicine, where they believe “above all else, do no harm.”
Even Dr. Sulapas adds that school sports do not have the luxury of mass testing or funding for extensive precautionary measures, so it is even more important for students to practice health and safety on their own terms. Sanitization, social distancing, and wearing a mask are key protections in this time of uncertainty.
“Sports will come back to normal eventually, but for now we have to implement them in a safe fashion,” Dr. Sulapas said.
Lara Becker is a Medical Daily intern and a senior at The College of New Jersey studying Journalism/ Professional Writing and Communication Studies.