Sports medicine advisory panel says remove risk-by-sport tiers

It’s too soon to tell if new guidance from the National Federation of State High School Associations’ Sports Medicine Advisory Committee will lead to the return of more sports amid the pandemic, but athletes and their parents, coaches and administrators have to be encouraged by it.

Issued last week, the guidance document, “Statement on Risk of COVID-19 During High School Sports,” eliminates the “Potential Infection Risk by Sport” recommendation from May that placed sports in high-, medium- and low-risk categories.

Instead, the committee suggests that state associations consider five factors in assessing potential for COVID-19 transmission in high school sports. The factors include:

• Prevailing community infection rates appear to be the strongest predictor for high school athletes being infected.

• Proven cases of direct COVID-19 transmission during athletics remain relatively rare.

• Participants in noncontact sports show lower rates of COVID-19 infection than those in contact sports.

• Participants in outdoor sports show lower rates of infection than those in indoor sports.
• Using face masks for indoor sports results in similar COVID-19 transmission rates to those seen in outdoor sports.

“If the medical profession has learned anything in the past year, it is that we have to be open to regularly assessing all available evidence and make appropriate changes in policies and procedures in places of business, schools and athletics,” Dr. Michael Koester, committee chairman, said in a Feb. 2 press release.

Rebecca Brutlag, media relations officer for the California Interscholastic Federation, told the Town Crier Thursday that the new guidance has been shared with the California Department of Public Health. The CIF follows the guidelines set by the department, she added.

To read the committee’s complete statement, visit

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