While youth winter sports have resumed in Vermont as of Friday, some things have changed if you’re a player or parent.
The Agency of Commerce and Community Development and the Agency of Education released a new guidance policy for indoor sports, which resumed Feb. 12. Competitions have some unusual rules — no spectators are allowed, and athletes must continue to wear masks during games and practices.
Despite the big changes to youth sports, Rutland City Schools Athletic Director Mike Norman told True North on Monday he’s pleased to see sports resume.
“I think the fact that we are able to practice and play games now is a great thing,” he said. “We just have to work around meeting the new things that we have to do — you know, the distancing and the masks, and things of that nature.”
“I think it’s paramount that these kids are practicing and playing games, and if that’s what we have to do, then that’s what we have to do,” Norman said.
The new rules include a limit of two games per seven-day period. Also, games must be spaced apart by a minimum of three days. No spectators are allowed, not even family.
Norman said parents would like to be at the games.
“I think schools are doing the best that they can to have the games live-streamed and put on social media,” he said. “Again, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing. When you boil right down to it, the most important thing is the kids. The kids participating is paramount.”
For most sports, players will continue to require wearing masks, even during intense physical activity. Athletes are expected to stay six feet away from each other when they are not in the game. The guidelines also discourage multi-household carpools.
The guidelines don’t only pertain to players and parents. Cheer squads are not allowed to perform vocal routines in practice or competitions, due to the possibility that vocal cheers may spread the coronavirus.
If an uptick in the spread of the virus is detected, the state may once again suspend events and close facilities.
Elsewhere in the nation, a movement is afoot to oppose masks during sports action. A group in Minnesota is pressuring lawmakers to remove the mask requirement for children, and they say some kids have experienced fainting.
“Hockey parents told the committee the masks are causing problems for their children on the ice, including fainting, concussions and obstructed vision,” a CBS report states.
The pressure to limit sports activity stems from media headlines and the governor’s press conferences that continuously rehearse deaths and cases of the coronavirus — a practice not done for other diseases. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that, almost exclusively, elderly people who have multiple illnesses are those at risk to be gravely sick or die from the coronavirus.
Norman said football was one of the sports activities most affected by the state’s restrictions.
“Every school in Vermont, I think there were probably less kids that played football this year than most, just because people had health concerns — you know, the unknown factors. And there were some people that didn’t consider it to be real football because it wasn’t 11 [players] on 11.”
He added that he doesn’t question the officials who continue to set the guidelines.
“It’s unfortunate that the parents and fans can’t go to the games, because they just enjoy watching the games and their children and all that sort of stuff. But I have confidence in the Principals Association, and certainly the governor and the administration, that they are making the decisions that need to be made.”