Youth sports league adjusts to get kids back in the game

Four months of lockdown is taking its toll on our children, according to Dr. Patrick Mularoni of Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital.

"Kids have got to get off the couch. These kids got to start playing. I’m OK with them playing sports but we’ve got to do it the safest way possible," he said. 

i9 Sports, a local youth sports company, says they are ready to do just that.  They typically offer 16 leagues around Tampa Bay, with as many as 10,000 participants a year. After having their spring seasons cancelled, their summer programs are kicking off this weekend.  

"We’ll do our best to not only put on a fantastic i9 Sports experience, but our number one key is to keep everyone safe out at our fields," insisted program director Jeff Roberts. 

One major change will be no indoor sports like volleyball and basketball. The outdoor sports staff has undergone two safety-training sessions. 

"We'll be disinfecting all of our equipment before, during, and after our games. On top of that, all of our staff and coaches will be in face shields.”

In addition, distancing will be enforced on the sidelines. Physical touching, like high-fives, are discouraged. 

Close-contact sports like flag-football and soccer will not be playing games, but working on skill development instead.

"It’s one of those steps where we felt for us to get out there, we kind of had to switch the format up," explained Roberts. 

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Dr. Mularoni encourages parents to take their own safety measures as well. Don't share water bottles, clean your hands often, and don't share equipment.

"If you have the opportunity for each child to have a bat, or each child to work with a single ball, that’s a good idea. And we should be sanitizing those after play," he suggested.