We Want School Sports
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The health and safety of our youth should be front and center as we navigate these unprecedented times. The physical and mental health of our youth depends on several factors and one of those is exercise. At the school level much of the exercise comes in the form of competitive play. We urge our public and elected officials along with the leadership at the schools to consider all options versus blanket decisions such as outright seasonal sport cancelations.
We understand this is a complex problem, however, it is upon all of us to find solutions to minimize the threat of Covid affecting the youth sports environment. Adults have the responsibility to limit the disruption to normal daily activities for our youth such as competitive athletics. This responsibility should include exploring and exhausting all creative and innovative safety procedures and equipment. The fact that some school districts may not have in-person learning shouldn't automatically cancel school sports. Allow parents, coaches and students to make the decision to participate in sport under safety guidelines. Let's also keep in mind that not all sports have the same level of risk, therefore, we encourage individual sport guidelines consideration. The National Federation of High School Sports has published a 16-page guide to help states with the reopening of each sport.
We urge you not to simply follow the cancelation of entire seasons across all sports simply because some universities or other institutions have made similar decisions. Be different and avoid acting prematurely. Gather input and sentiment from the various stakeholders within the youth sport environment. Take into account that young athletes do not get a re-do in their young lives when it comes to athletics. They cannot be given an extra year of eligibility as you might get at the collegiate level. The positive long and short term effects of sports on our young people is immeasurable. What we need now is healthier and more fit young people to boost immune systems and positively affect mental health. We have to keep their young minds and bodies healthfully busy. If they don't have sport to give their time to, they may likely utilize that time to get into trouble especially as parents continue to focus on their work. Furthermore, if schools do cancel the reaction will be student athletes with the financial means will pay for private club teams to further their athletic endeavors. This will ultimately leave those who cannot afford the private clubs to be left behind. Young people of all socio and economic backgrounds must not suffer any further due to our inability as adults to mitigate and minimize risks from Covid-19.
The pandemic is real but so is the quality of the current lives of our young people and their future. Please don't mistaken our position to move forward with school sports. We are not saying that competing in youth sports is more important than matters of disease and illness. That would be insensitive, ignorant and severely lacking empathy for what this virus has factually done thus far to our communities. However, we do have an equal responsibility to find safe solutions to optimize living life in a timely manner. We should not delay any further in truly exploring, planning and executing those solutions.
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