It seems safe to say that US youth sports will not form a bubble at the ESPN sports complex in Orlando, Florida like the NBA did this upcoming winter.
For those who aren’t aware, the NBA finished its 2019-2020 season in a “bubble.” A confined area that players were not allowed to leave for the remainder of the season from July to October. It was tough for many players, and a striking reminder of the serious nature of COVID-19.
And now, as fall and winter youth sports like soccer, ice hockey and basketball approach, thousands of families are wondering: is it safe to play indoor sports right now?
Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of enrolling your children in indoor sports during the COVID-19 pandemic:
(NOTE: If you’re not comfortable enrolling in an indoor sports league, you can sign up for some of our virtual sports classes for children here.)
Pros of indoor sports
One word (kind of): EDSO. It stands for endorphins, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. These are the brain chemicals responsible for our positive emotions.
And when your child engages in indoor sports, they get a healthy balance of all four.
They help us when our bodies are in pain. When you laugh “so much it hurts,” or you run so hard your lungs “burn,” endorphins mask the pain so you can keep going. They’re extremely beneficial for encouraging your children to be healthy.
This is released when we kick a goal or shoot a basket. The accomplishment gives us the confidence we need to keep playing well.
This bonds us to each other. When a teammate embraces you or gives you kudos for making a great play, serotonin is released in both players and their bond is tighter. Serotonin is a crucial part of what helps human beings feel connected to each other.
This is released when you serve or witness service. When a player falls down or gets hurt and you reach down to help, oxytocin surges. It encourages you to help others.
In short, when your children play indoor sports, they’ll learn to stay active, achieve their goals, bond with others and serve their peers.
Cons of indoor sports
The most obvious risk of playing indoor sports right now is the increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Of course, there’s no guarantee you will or won’t contract the virus regardless of where you are, but it’s important to recognize that gathering with a large group of people inside a closed facility increases the likelihood.
There’s also the risk of financial loss if you enroll your child in a sports league and either they get sick and can’t participate, or the whole league shuts down because of a spread of the virus.
Ways to reduce risk if you choose to play
If you choose to enroll your child in an indoor sports league, here are some ways to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19:
- Wear a mask as often as possible. If you are a spectator, it’s likely that you’ll be asked to wear a mask 100% of the time anyway.
- Avoid sharing equipment with other players.
- Shower and wash equipment immediately after practice and games.
- Adjust practice formats to socially distance as much as possible. Depending on your sport, you may be able to avoid most close contact with other players during practices.
- Don’t hand out post-game snacks and beverages. Children have loved getting Rice Krispy Treats and Capri-Sun after sports games for decades. But for now, it may be in the best interest of all to pause the post-game goodness.
Ways to maintain the fun of the experience
Taking safety precautions if you choose to play indoor sports doesn’t have to ruin the fun of the experience. Keep EDSO in mind and try to create as many experiences as possible to keep the positive emotions flowing.
The sport itself will help children get the endorphins and dopamine they need. Verbal shout-outs and better communication skills will help them and you create closer bonds. And over-communicating your want to be there for the team and players will inspire everyone with the desire to serve and be there for each other.
And isn’t that the point of playing team sports anyway?
If you’re not comfortable enrolling in an indoor sports league, you can sign up for some of our virtual sports classes for children here.