Connecticut DPH Releases New Youth Sports Guidelines; Football, Wrestling Allowed

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As Governor Ned Lamont eased COVID-19 restrictions across all sectors, some new sports got the green light to start playing again.

Thursday, Lamont said all sports can play starting March 19, subject to state Department of Public Health guidelines. DPH released new guidance the same day.

Throughout the pandemic, the state has looked to the high, medium and low risk categories outlined by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Last month, the NFHS eliminated those guidelines, instead in favor of these factors:

  1. COVID-19 rates of participants in any given sport are directly proportional to prevailing community disease rates.
  2. Participants in non-contact sports show lower rates of COVID-19 than contact sports.
  3. Participants in outdoor sports show lower rates of COVID-19 than indoor sports.
  4. Face mask use while participating in indoor sports results in COVID-19 rates comparable to the rates found in outdoor sports.
  5. The great majority of sports-related spread of COVID-19 does not appear to occur during sports participation, but from social contact. (Public health precautions) must continue to be emphasized in the locker room, on the sidelines, and while traveling, dining and interacting in the community.

In its updated guidelines, DPH instead will reference a "continuum represented by many different variables some of which can be mitigated to affect the overall risk profile of a particular sport or activity."

According to the updated guidance, sports that involved frequent face-to-face contact, like football and wrestling, are now permitted to play but advise wearing a mask at all times.

Sports that involved intermittent direct contact with moderate exertion (basketball, hockey, boys and girls lacrosse, soccer, etc.) are also advised to wear masks while competing.

For sports like cross country, golf and track and field, which have infrequent direct contact, DPH allows for athletes to be maskless while competing, but recommends masks when sidelined.

The CIAC said in a statement it will review the updated guidelines with its sports medicine committee. Executive Director Glenn Lungarini called it "encouraging".

DPH said these guidelines pertain to the "spring" season of March 19-May 27. They plan to revisit them later in May.

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