A baseball game being played at Riverview Playfield in Seattle, taken in June 2015. (Photo courtesy of Seattle Parks/Flickr)

On Oct. 6, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that he would be relaxing some of the COVID-19 restrictions on businesses and activities statewide, including outdoor sports.

As part of that announcement, some outdoor youth sports are now allowed to resume, including soccer, softball, cross-country, tennis, flag football, and lacrosse.

The do’s and don’ts of youth sports during a pandemic

King County Parks said it would allow games and scrimmages for youth and adult sports, with some restrictions, starting Oct. 15. Outdoor group events, such as runs, rides, and races are allowed to resume as well, with restrictions, including a limit on the number of participants and guidelines for staggered starts.

Since King County still ranks in the “moderate” level of COVID-19 activity, athletes, teams, leagues, and other organizations may participate in “low risk” and “medium risk” sports, which are listed below:

  • Low risk: tennis, swimming, diving, cross country, disc golf
  • Moderate risk: softball, baseball, t-ball, soccer, lacrosse, flag football, ultimate Frisbee, cricket, crew, field hockey
  • High risk: football, rugby, basketball, water polo, martial arts competitions, roller derby, boxing

County parks will schedule baseball games through Oct. 31. Leagues and teams can contact the regional scheduling office or Marymoor Park office with questions about scheduling or rentals.

Leagues and other organizations are required to have a “Return to Play” safety plan in place that must include requirements for facial coverings, physical distancing, and no spectators.

Per King County Parks, face coverings are required for all participants before and after activities, and at all times for coaches, referees, trainers, and others at the field. Coaches, trainers, and others, including participants when not engaged in the sporting activity, must keep a physical distance of six feet from others. No spectators are allowed, except for one adult for each minor-aged participant.

Officials add that restrictions may change if King County’s level of COVID activity drops.

WIAA releases guidelines for resuming youth sports in Washington

Dr. Jonathan Drezner, director of the UW Medicine Center for Sports Cardiology and a team physician for the Seattle Seahawks, warns that the new guidance issued by the governor does not mean we’ll see youth practices and games this week, next week, or even at all. Resuming these activities, he said, depends on where you live, the new case averages, and the county’s average infection rates.

It also depends on the sport being played. Drezner says soccer, for example, is less likely to spread the virus since bodily contact is brief and it’s an outdoor sport. Disease would seem to have a higher chance of spreading in football and basketball, in which players are face to face throughout the game, he noted.

“The guiding principal for me, is you don’t want sports to be a mechanism for people to get infected,” Drezner said.