What might high school sports look like when schools reopen? Here's a guide

(Greensburg) Tribune-Review (TNS)
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Players shouldn’t pass a basketball, hand off a football or share a baseball bat when high school sports workouts first resume, according to guidelines revealed Tuesday by the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Also, workouts should include no more than 10 people, whether indoors or outside.

The NFHS released a detailed guide for reopening high school athletic programs closed by the coronavirus pandemic. The guide, written by the NFHS sports medicine advisory committee, divides the reopening into three phases with the first being the most strict.

“We are greatly indebted to the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for its work in formulating this guidance for re-opening high school athletics and activities,” NFHS executive director Karissa Niehoff said in a statement. “It is important to be clear that this is guidance for individual states to consider as they return to activities this fall. States will utilize the guidance in this document as it best fits their state after consulting with local and state health departments.”

The PIAA board of directors intends to discuss plans to reopen Pennsylvania interscholastic athletics Wednesday.

Under Phase 1 of the NFHS guidelines, teams should avoid drills where one ball is touched by many athletes. A player can safely shoot a basketball, serve a volleyball or throw a football, but others shouldn’t touch that same ball.

A single baseball or softball player can take batting practice or practice pitching in a cage without a catcher. However, before another individual uses the same balls, “they should be collected and cleaned individually.”

Likewise, football players shouldn’t share tackling dummies, sleds or other contact equipment.

Each phase was broken into five categories: screening, limitations on gatherings, facilities cleanings, athletic equipment and hydration.

Phase 2 increases gathering maximums to 10 people indoors or 50 outdoors, while still maintaining six feet between athletes. Phase 3 allows 50 indoors or out.

The guidelines also provided preliminary questions for state associations to consider.

Among them was: Will your state association conduct an athletics/activities regular season or championship if public schools statewide are closed to in-person learning?