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UArizona expert weighs in on returning to sports

Sports
Posted at 10:04 PM, Sep 08, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 01:53:17-04

TUCSON, Ariz.  — Traci Brown has two athletes in her home and she thinks it’s time for students to get back to sports if they can’t get back in the classroom.

“It allows them the opportunity to socialize, you know, and with the guidelines that have been put in place. Um, and it definitely helps with our students in their development academically, socially, mentally, which we even see as a, as adults that we need, especially during this difficult time,” she said.

One of Brown's children plays golf, which is considered a socially distanced activity.

University of Arizona Doctor Marvin Slepian said sports like that have a lower risk of spread.

"If you're doing a sport like a tennis [or] if you're playing golf and if you're socially distancing, I think that's terrific. I think that's the type of activity we need to encourage people to do. But if you're crowding and you're working in a very close environment and you haven't been careful, and you have been exposed -- those are situations that are not going to be good, as far as the spread of a virus," explained Dr. Slepian.

But Brown explained the choice to keep all kids from sports doesn’t make sense. She explains other Arizona schools are practicing again.

“They've been back since early August, at least practicing under the new AIA guidelines," said Brown.

Although there are trends in Arizona that show the numbers are going in the right direction, Dr. Slepian explained viruses are still looking for hosts to infect.

“Students or young people that are playing sports, typically have some element of a family. In Arizona, that family may be more extended -- where we have, aunts, uncles, grandparents, that are close. You have to think about that type of risk and spread. While you may be safe, if you suddenly go back and you're working in a team environment where people are working closely and someone on that team, perhaps was not as cautious and may have been exposed, or maybe going to a party or simply picking something up, unbeknownst to you that virus may now enter your team domain,” explained Dr. Slepian.

Brown said the possibility of contracting COVID-19 is always in the back of her mind.

“We have protocols that are set in place that they have to follow in order to lower that risk and I feel, as a parent who has done their due diligence [and] has done their research -- I feel safe in allowing my children to participate in both of their programs their, their athletic programs,” concluded Brown.