JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Goodbye, handshakes and high-fives.
Welcome to the new normal in high school sports.
The National Federation of High Schools has laid out guidelines for states to ease into a return to athletics in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the changes in a post-pandemic world — saying so long to the pre- and post-game handshake., high-fives and hugs.
Karissa L. Niehoff, executive director of the NFHS, wrote a column on Wednesday afternoon saying that the new normal, at least for now, is maintaining the sportsmanship aspect while sacrificing the physical element of handshakes and high-fives.
The NFHS, the overseer of high school sports across the country, has released guidelines for states to use as they gauge when and how to segue back into practice and competition.
The “Guidance for Opening Up High School Athletics and Activities” was released Tuesday outlining a three-phase approach for state associations to follow. High school sports in both Florida and Georgia had the bulk of their spring seasons wiped out by precautions due to the coronavirus.
In looking forward for returning, the NFHS classified certain activities like football and wrestling as “higher-risk sports” with “more of a concern for transmission of the virus.”
The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee is encouraging a return to athletic competition but said that it knows that sports may not resume for all states at the same time due to certain areas being farther along than others in the COVID-19 recovery process.
Among conditions in Phase 1 of the guidelines, there are limitations of 10 people at a time either inside or outside and locker rooms may not be used. Coaches and students must be screened prior to workouts.
In Phase 2, no more than 50 people may gather outdoors for workouts. Practices and competitions in lower risk sports such as cross country, golf, swimming and weightlifting may resume and practices for moderate risk sports can begin. Sports such as baseball, basketball, soccer and softball are among sports labeled as moderate risk.
In Phase 3, gatherings of up to 50 people can take place, either indoors or outdoors. Moderate risk sports events can begin.
Now that there’s an outline in place, when will states begin to roll out their own plans? Area districts are still waiting for guidance from the Florida High School Athletic Association and Georgia High School Association on phased rollouts of returning.