I-TEAM: ‘We can do it safely’: With recreation sports starting soon, what’s the prognosis?

Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 4:44 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Recreation league sports leagues are starting to gear up for the season, but how safe will it be to play?

Because there is a risk involved with anything now -- even going to the grocery store. But that's essential, right? What about sports? An infectious disease expert says they're pretty important, too.

"We have never dealt with anything like this before," Georgia Pop Warner League President Andrea Smock said.

The league starts soon, too.

"Our first official day of conditioning is Saturday."

So right now, her team of volunteers is finalizing safety precautions teams will follow. It's a long list: breaks to sanitize equipment to coaches in masks, parents having to watch practice and games from their cars, temperature checks, and even dedicated cones to keep the kids spread out.

"They have their name on it," Smock said. "That's where their water bottle goes. That's where their bag goes, and when they are not in a drill, that's where they are."

The CDC has provided some guidance and "team-based practice" ranks pretty low second only to "drills or conditioning at home."

Risk increases as the competition does, but we wanted an expert to spell it out even more.

"I think it's so important to get people back out there, mental health, physical health, exercise," Dr. Rodger MacArthur, an infectious disease expert at AU Health, said, "We can do it safely."

MacArthur believes with safety precautions -- even kids with underlying conditions could play.

"If everybody does their part, if everybody does what they can do to maintain that social distance, not come when they're sick and wear a mask. When at all possible. I think that makes it a whole lot easier and makes it feasible for the asthmatic, to be able to participate," MacArthur said.

Since different leagues could have different rules, it's up to parents to ask questions.

"We're just excited to play football and cheer and just come together as a community, you know, even if it looks different," Smock said.

Or if it ends up being shorter.

“We may play one game, and our season’s over,” Smock said. “We just don’t know what our 2020 season’s going to look like.”

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