Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s office has released guidelines for the return to youth sports as the state enters phase 3 of its reopening plan.
Under phase 3, which began on Monday, indoor pools and gyms (outside of Boston) are also allowed to reopen. Pools and gyms in Boston will be allowed to reopen on July 13. However, many of the pools located on college campuses still remain closed.
Under the guidelines, sports are classified into three categories of risk level: lower risk, moderate risk, and high risk. Additionally, the guidelines create four levels of “return to play” categories, which go as follows:
- Level 1: Individual or socially distanced group activities (no-contact workouts, aerobic conditioning, individual skill work, and drills)
- Level 2: Competitive Practices (Intra-team/group games, contact drills and scrimmages)
- Level 3: Competitions (Inter-team games, meets, matches, races, etc.)
- Level 4: Tournaments (Outdoor only)
Sports categorized into the “lower risk” category are allowed to resume all four levels of activities. These sports include:
- Individual swimming
- Batting cages for baseball
Sports in the “moderate risk” category may participate in every level of play, except for level four. These sports can have their risk levels reduced by modifying play, wearing masks, and reducing contact. They include:
- Team swimming
- Cross country
- Track and field
- Lacrosse (without contact)
“Higher risk” sports are only allowed to resume play under level 1, as they present the highest risk of contracting the coronavirus through participation. These include:
- Competitive cheer
- Lacrosse (with contact)
These guidelines do not pertain directly to high school sports, which are governed by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA). However, they may be a framework for the MIAA’s guidelines, which are expected to be posted in the coming weeks.
The MIAA sponsors 9 sports in the fall, including:
- Volleyball (girls only)
- Field Hockey
- Swimming and Diving
- Cross country
However, swimming and diving is also contested in the winter, with many of the fall teams being predominantly female. If the organization follows the state guidelines when creating their own, there is a chance the swim seasons may be streamlined into one.