States, and even some counties, are developing their own, unique guidelines for permitting youth sports over the course of designated phases. This creates a patchwork of guidelines and dates for returning to practices and games. There are 41 states that have announced youth sports can return to practice and 29 states are allowing games to be played by the end of June [as of June 1, 2020]. Nine states have yet to set a date to reopen practices, and 21 states have not set a date for the return to games. Tables 1 and 2 summarize the return of youth sports by state as of May 29, 2020.
|State||Reopen Practice||Reopen Games|
|Georgia||6/8||Approval by county|
|Pennsylvania||Approval by county||Approval by county|
|Reopen Month||Reopen Practices||Reopen Games|
With a staggered restart across the country, governing bodies, sports facilities, and event operators are making modifications and adaptations for participants and spectators.
The CDC published “Considerations for Youth Sports” in mid-May that provides guidance to youth sports operators on ways to safely restart youth sports. The NFHS also released guidance on opening up high school athletics.
Modifications are important for health/safety concerns and to allay perceived risks many parents might have of COVID-19 and its impact on children. A recent survey from North Carolina State University indicated 50% of youth sports parents were afraid their child would get sick if he or she started playing sports again.
In spite of parental concerns, data from the CDC show hospitalization rates are much lower than cumulative influenza hospitalization rates at comparable time points during recent influenza seasons and laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 hospitalization rates for 5-17 year-olds at 1.9 per 100,000 compared to the overall rate of 73.3.
In light of parental concerns around safety and the patchwork nature of youth sports returning across the country, the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute and Grand Park Sports Campus collaborated to better understand how COVID-related adaptations are perceived by parents, athletes, coaches, officials, and administrators. The result provides youth sports facilities and event operators with specific data on how adaptations will be received by these stakeholders looking to return to youth sports in a safe way.