By Ken Reed

While most school fall sports seasons across the country have either been cancelled, postponed, or allowed to continue under heavy restrictions due to COVID-19, youth sports have — for the most part — continued on with few changes.

Youth sports organizations have a ton of freedom to do what they want in this country. There is no national youth sports organization with any policy clout. There is no national youth sports policy. There is no national sports minister overseeing sports (like many countries have). In the United States, youth sports leagues and tournaments are free to look for any loopholes in local COVID safety policies they can find in order to keep the games going — and the revenue flowing for youth sports entrepreneurs.

“There are loopholes,” said a frustrated D.C. soccer dad whose son is sitting out his travel team’s games to keep his vulnerable family members safe. “And this virus loves loopholes.”

For the most part, club teams and elite travel teams have continued on unabated, pandemic be damned. If per chance a given youth sports team’s county or state limits youth sports gatherings and activities, these teams will often travel to counties and states that are allowing youth sports competitions.

“He played about 60 games this summer,” said one baseball mom about her son’s team.

Kids (and their parents) that decide to sit out this youth sports season because of family concerns about spreading the coronavirus to vulnerable family members worry that they will fall behind their teammates who continue to compete. It’s not an unfounded fear. Kids across the country have been dropped from their elite club teams for sitting out this season due to COVID-19.

It’s a strange situation. In many cases, kids aren’t allowed to go to school due to COVID safety policies, but are allowed to gather in fairly large groups to practice and play games.

“How come we can’t send our kids to school but this (playing youth sports) is okay?” asked one parent.

Good question. Good question indeed.

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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