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Sisolak announces guidelines for return of youth sports

Updated October 2, 2020 - 3:34 pm

Youth baseball, soccer and other non-contact sports can start again across Nevada this weekend after a more than a six-month absence due to COVID-19, Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Friday.

Sisolak on Friday lifted the ban on many youth and adult recreational sports as part of another round the state’s loosening COVID-19 restrictions in recent weeks. The governor’s latest directive allows sports deemed minimal or non-contact to start practicing and playing competitive games again starting Saturday. The directive only applies to youth and adult recreational sports, including travel clubs, private leagues and clubs.

It does not affect professional, college or high school sports. Changes to high school athletics, Sisolak noted in a press conference announcing the changes, will continue to be up to the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association. Professional and college sports were permitted previously, and Sisolak earlier this week in a separate directive allowed for a limited number of fans at those games.

The recreational sports deemed minimal and non-contact that will be allowed going forward include: baseball, soccer, volleyball, golf, tennis, flag football, cross country, gymnastics, swimming/diving, non-contact cheer and dance, archery, target shooting, rowing, equestrian events, weight lifting, skiing/snowboarding, badminton, disc golf, bowling, solo figure skating, fencing and kickball.

Full contact youth and adult recreational sports, such as football, basketball, rugby, wrestling, martial arts, boxing, hockey, lacrosse, pair figure skating, group cheer and dance, and water polo are still barred.

Latest change in regulations

Allowing recreational sports to proceed again is the latest easing of the state’s coronavirus restrictions. Earlier this week, Sisolak lifted the state’s ban on gatherings of more than 50 people, and set the new limit at 250 while also allowing for larger venues to host significantly more people if certain parameters can be met and with local and state approval, and the state allowed bars in Clark County to reopen last month.

The peeling back of the restrictions comes as the state is seeing a steady uptick in new coronavirus cases in recent weeks. The state’s death and hospitalization rate associated with the virus have both remained steady.

The new directive requires recreational sports leagues and clubs to submit safety plans to the state before it can resume competitive matches. Coaches, managers, referees and team officials will be required to take a COVID-19 test before the start of practices or games, and the state encourages them to be retested every other week. Testing for athletes is also encouraged, but not mandatory under the directive.

Contactless temperature screening will be required for all players, athletes, coaches, officials and staff before each practice and game.

If a coach, manager or athlete tests positive, all team activities must stop for 14 days while the entire team quarantines. If a household member of those people tests positive, the league’s administer must be notified and team activities must stop for 14 days from the person’s most recent exposure to an infected person.

Taking rules seriously

Guy Hobbs, president of Nevada Youth Soccer, said in a statement that they plan on taking the new regulations seriously so that kids can get back to playing sports.

“We look forward to the opportunity to get our kids out on the fields and competing, particularly in light of the fact that there are few alternatives for them other than youth sports at this time,” Hobbs said. “We fully recognize the opportunity that’s being given to the kids and we’ll do everything possible to ensure that the programs are executed in strict accordance with all the protocols set forth by the state and local governments.”

Clark County Commissioner Larry Brown also lauded the move, saying that recreational sports coming back will greatly benefit the physical and mental health for both the younger and older recreational athletes.

Sisolak said that coaches, managers, officials and parents and guardians should wear masks at games and practices, and the players should wear them if maintaining distance from other players isn’t possible.

Sisolak said that he is “counting on individuals to follow these guidelines to prevent the spread of the virus.”

“We are trusting and counting on parents, players and officials to make this program a success,” Sisolak said. “Coaches are role models. Wear a mask on the sidelines.”

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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