When and How Sports Can Return

Denton Sports
Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash

Written by: Chris Escoto, Athletics Supervisor

In the sports world, it’s common to hear, “trust the process.” Now is the time to stay positive and make sure we do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. We cannot wait to have you back out in our fields, and we want to explain what’s going on.

The shutdown of sports due to COVID-19 happened quickly and was the ultimate test of patience, flexibility, and adaptation to the unique circumstances we were all experiencing. Ultimately, sports at all levels got canceled or suspended play.

Although COVID-19 is still here, processes to resume sports from a professional, collegiate, high school, select and recreational level are in the works. However, for those activities to return, it must happen with a safe and calculated approach.

The top priority of the Denton Parks and Recreation Department is the health and safety of program participants and staff members.

It is impossible to eliminate the risk of becoming infected by COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. However, we are committed to implementing practices recommended to prevent and reduce the virus’ spread. As much as we would like to go back to the “same old” programming before COVID, that may be unrealistic, and our programs will have to adapt and be modified.

What will sport leagues look like, and what’s going to be offered?

We’ve evaluated and categorized each sport based on risk aligned with the National Federation of State High School Association (NFHS) guidelines. The best way to approach COVID-19 risks will vary by sport. Depending on the classification, certain sports will resume a lot quicker than others. Below are some general factors that will be a common practice moving forward.

  • Practice space will be limited or eliminated to minimize interaction.

  • Sanitation of equipment before, during, and after activities will be a crucial factor for each sport.

  • Staggering of game times and limiting spectators to avoid over-crowding will be the new norm for upcoming seasons.

  • Depending on local and state orders, face coverings may be required throughout the facilities. But masks will be recommended in Denton to be worn for spectators and when players are not actively participating in a game.

  • Social distancing will not be a thing of the past and will still be encouraged to follow.

  • Player interaction will be different as organizations such as USSSA, NFHS, and the CDC recommend avoiding the common practice of high-fives, shaking hands, and group huddles. It will create new unorthodox ways of interaction and the opportunity to display sportsmanship further. Some alternatives to consider are a slight bow with the palms pressed together, and air high-five, a smile and quick wave, a double-tap of the right hand across the heart, or a thumbs up.

Resuming play will be determined on several factors that include state and local health conditions, public health authorities’ recommendations, direction from City officials, and available resources such as staffing and disinfectant supplies. At this time, programs may start as soon as September 2020. Below is the proposed plan for Fall Sports.

Proposed Fall 2020 Sport Leagues

  • Youth Flag Football

  • Youth Volleyball

  • Adult Kickball

  • Adult Softball

  • Adult Volleyball

Sports Leagues TBD

  • Youth Basketball

  • Youth Futsal

  • Youth Soccer

  • Adult Basketball

  • Adult Soccer

Sports Participants: What you need to know

The CDC offers recommendations on how members of the public can limit the spread of the coronavirus. They currently include:

  • Stay home if sick

  • Reduce physical closeness between players when possible

  • Allow players to focus on building individual skills, like batting, dribbling, kicking, and strength training.

  • Limit full contact between players to game days (avoid during practice).

  • Increase space between players in the practice areas, including on the sideline, dugout, and bench.

  • Avoid high fives, handshakes, fist bumps, or hugs.

  • Minimize sharing of equipment or gear

  • Encourage players to bring their equipment, like gloves, balls, and helmets (if possible).

  • Clean and disinfect shared items between use.

  • Players should clean their hands before and after practices, games, and sharing equipment.

  • Practice social distancing and use cloth face coverings, when appropriate

  • Implement plans to space out spectators by 6 feet at games or competitions.

  • Coaches, parents, fans, officials, and sports staff should wear a face covering.

  • Don’t touch your face covering. If you do, clean your hands.

  • It’s most important to wear a cloth face covering when it’s hard to keep 6 feet of space between people.

We look forward to bringing that much-needed fun and wellness to you and your loved ones while we continue our mission to Unite, Grow, Play!

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Source: City of Denton