Mighty Blog

COVID-19 and sports: Which sports are safe for kids to play?

People are trying to grasp some sort of normalcy through COVID-19, but some ‘normal’ things still may not be safe. Different activities can pose different levels of risk for the spread of COVID-19. One of the ‘normal’ things people are wondering about is: Can my child play sports?

Are sports safe for kids to play?

Sports are a big part of many people’s childhoods. They are a social activity that also allows them to stay active. However, not all sports are safe to play during COVID-19.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a report of a hockey game where one player infected 14 of the 22 players on the teams, and an arena worker. The infected people will likely go on to infect at least two other people. The COVID-19 risk is not just for the people at the hockey game, but goes beyond that to those in their community.

So, how do parents decide whether or not their child should play sports? Think like the virus.

What environment would cause more spread of the virus?

Child playing hockey outside with his brother.

The virus has a better chance of surviving in these conditions, causing a higher chance of risk for kids to get COVID-19. According to Patsy Stinchfield, senior director of infection prevention at Children’s Minnesota, the virus thrives in:

  • Colder temperatures.
  • Lower humidity.
  • Poorer ventilation.
  • People who are exhaling heavily.
  • Close contact with others.

Unfortunately, the virus likes the same conditions our Minnesota hockey players do, says Stinchfield. Overall, being outdoors is better than being indoors, and less close physical contact is better than more.

Sports like tennis or golf, where kids play in pairs, without a team and outside are safer than sports that are team-oriented and indoors like hockey. A good second option to playing hockey indoors (with a team) is to ice skate outside with the family.

Sports risk

Here are the guiding principles regarding sports from the CDC:

  • Lowest Risk: Performing skill-building drills or conditioning at home, alone or with family or household members.
  • Increasing Risk: Team-based practice.
  • More Risk: Within-team competition.
  • Even More Risk: Full competition between teams from the same local geographic area.
  • Highest Risk: Full competition between teams from different geographic areas.

We understand that sports are an important part of kids’ development, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, some activities will be safer than others. Keep these CDC guidelines in mind when deciding which activities you are OK with your child participating in.

Alexandra Rothstein