State relaxes restrictions on youth sports

Gov. Steve Sisolak gives updates on Nevada's COVID-19 response efforts and lifting of restrictions on youth and adult recreation sports during a news conference at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Sign language interpreter Megan Johnson is at right. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal, via AP pool)
Gov. Steve Sisolak gives updates on Nevada’s COVID-19 response efforts and lifting of restrictions on youth and adult recreation sports during a news conference at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas Friday, Oct. 2, 2020. Sign language interpreter Megan Johnson is at right. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the sports world has been on hold since mid-March, but on Friday Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak gave the go-ahead for youth and adult sports to return around the state.

Sisolak announced he will be issuing an Emergency Directive lifting some restrictions on youth and adult sports and adjusting the COVID-19 statewide guidance on sports.  

Non-contact and minimal-contact sports like baseball, golf, tennis and soccer could start practice, training and competitions as soon as next week for organized youth and adult sports, but full contact sports like football, basketball, wrestling and hockey will be prohibited.

“I have confidence in the residents of Nevada. They’ve asked for youth sports over and over again. I want kids to get out there and play,” Sisolak said. “We’ve asked for very reasonable restrictions on youth sports. I am confident they will follow the regulations.”

The new guidelines apply to travel teams, private and recreational leagues and clubs, and park district programs, but not to professional and collegiate sports. 

High school sports could resume, but that decision has to come from the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association’s (NIAA), which retains authority over when and under what conditions high school sports will resume.

While sports leagues can play again, they must first submit a Preparedness & Safety Plan and comply with all health and safety protocols outlined in the guidance, including strict adherence to social distancing, sanitization and limitations on spectators and participants at games. 

The guidelines put sports into three “risk levels” — low, moderate and high — which Sisolak said is based on how much contact and proximity participants have during play.

Tournaments may resume as soon as Oct. 24 if their plan is approved. Sports that are categorized as low or moderate risk would be able to hold state or league championship games. 

Sports that can be done individually using equipment that can be cleaned between uses like archery, badminton, and bowling are among the sports considered “lower risk” under the new state guidelines, while low-contact sports with equipment that can not be cleaned between uses like baseball and softball are considered moderate if all mitigation measures are followed.

“Outdoor locations are safer than indoor locations. Small groups are safer than large groups, sports that can ensure a distance of 6 feet or more are safer than close contact sports and shorter duration is better than longer duration,” Sisolak said. 

Athletic equipment should be cleaned between uses and should not be shared, the guidelines state.

The guidelines require that coaches, referees and other teams staff take a COVID-19 test prior to a resuming athletic activity and suggests that they monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms and be declined admittance if they are feeling ill. Contactless temperature screenings are required for athletes, coaches, referees, and other staff. They also encourage sports organizations to make temperature checks available to spectators.

If athletes, coaches, or staff report having symptoms or test positive for the coronavirus the must be quarantine for 14 days and should be reported to the sports program administrator and the local health department. All team activities and practices must be canceled for 14 days during the quarantine period. 

Sisolak also addressed President Donald Trump and the first lady testing positive for COVID-19.

“Our sympathy goes out to the first family for both the president and the first lady,” Sisolak said. “We wish them a speedy recovery and a safe recovery. That being said we encourage people to follow the social guidelines.”

“You can argue all day long that this doesn’t make a difference, I’m telling you it makes a difference.”

Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.