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Back to school means back to sports

Weighing the risks versus benefits of youth sports with Mayo Clinic.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Back to school, means back to sports for many kids. And you may have some concerns about how to let them participate while staying healthy. The Mayo Clinic has some advice.

“Realize that we're trying to minimize risk and we're not going to be able to eliminate it,” says Dr. David Soma.

Dr. Soma says there's plenty to consider when it comes to youth sports, but ultimately, you need to weigh risk versus benefit. Let's start with the benefit part.

“Really young children, having that involvement in school, or having that involvement in sport, is really, really important,” he says.

Sports are good for kids, mentally, physically, socially. And we know that kids are more mildly affected by COVID-19 than older folks. But, that doesn't eliminate the risk.

“This is really driven by the sport they are participating in, the local disease activity, the individual circumstances of that athlete, and if they have any underlying health conditions, or close family members that have underlying health conditions that could pose significant risk if they would develop COVID 19,” says Dr. Soma.

Some sports are inherently safer than others, those played outdoors, where you're farther away from competitors, and not sharing equipment.
And masks help keep things safer too.

“There's really no debate about whether masks do provide protection, but there can be little bit of question about doing it during intense sports participation,” he says.

“If you're sitting on the sidelines, going to the sporting event, in the locker room, or if you're in a less strenuous part of your sports participation, I think it is very acceptable and potentially recommended to wear a mask,” Dr. Soma adds.

And the best thing we can do as parents, teachers and coaches is model good behavior.

“Knowing that children do benefit from that social interaction of physical activity but how do we get them to do it but remember we are living in a pandemic,” says Dr. Soma.

If your kid does get COVID-19, even if it's mild, Dr. Soma says they should make their return to sports slow. There has been some concern about heart problems, or myocarditis following cases of COVID but simply not enough data at this point to make a definitive connection.

“What I would recommend is that if a child has COVID-19, and they want to return back into physical activity, that they wait that minimum of 10 to 14 days. When they return, they should do so very cautiously, and if they develop any signs of exercise intolerance with exercise, chest discomfort, or other concerns they should seek medical evaluation immediately,” he says.