Massachusetts Publishes Guidelines for Youth Sports as the State Reopens Pools

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
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Fishing
  • Yoga
  • Gymnastics 
  • 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: 

  • Baseball 
  • Team swimming
  • Softball
  • Crew/sailing
  • Cross country
  • Track and field 
  • Volleyball 
  • Dance
  • 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: 

  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Wrestling
  • Rugby
  • Hockey
  • Competitive cheer
  • Basketball 
  • 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: 

  • Football
  • Cheerleading 
  • Soccer
  • Volleyball (girls only) 
  • Field Hockey
  • Swimming and Diving
  • Golf
  • Gymnastics 
  • 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. 


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They tried to consolidate the swim seasons into just the Winter several years ago and some schools balked at the idea saying there wasn’t pool space in the winter. Guess they should take the 5am or 9pm open times like other teams have to do. For the record, Massachusetts requires that no high school practice or meet can be missed for anything club related, with the exception of a one-time waiver. For this reason, many swimmers do not swim high school (unless their high school coach is flexible with practice times), or like some of the Northern part of Massachusetts, they swim in the Fall with less of the USA season impacted.


^^^ THIS!


Yes, I absolutely hate the bona fide team rule. My AD makes it virtually impossible to get the wavier too, which promotes a bad environment.