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Youth sports amid the pandemic: A Mayo doctor weighs in

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- Whether or not to have their child participate in sports amid the COVID-19 pandemic is a question that has weighed heavily on some parents' minds.

Dr. David Soma is a pediatric sports medicine specialist at Mayo Clinic. He said participation in organized sports creates a positive effect on a child's mental and physical health. He said sports participation can be safe if proper protocols are followed.

"As a parent, you need to look at what the benefit is of your child playing sports, if there is a great benefit, then the risk may be worth it, " Dr. Soma said.

Soma said it's important to remember the basics of hand-washing, mask wearing and social distancing when possible. He recommended frequent health checks before every practice and refraining from high fives or fist-bumping. He recommended parents drive children to games, if possible, instead of athletes taking a bus.

He recognized the fact that some sports like football don't lend themselves very well to social distancing. But, he said an advantage football does have is that it's outdoors. Soma said indoor sports like basketball pose a higher risk of infection.

Soma said it's important to note that children usually don't get severely ill from COVID-19. However, he noted there are some health conditions like obesity or heart issues that could put children at a higher risk of COVID-19 complications.

"When deciding whether your child themselves should return to sports or not, there are numerous considerations," Soma said. "Number one would be, does your child, or any close contact of that child have any high risk conditions?"

Soma said the decision on whether a child should participate in sports should be made by the entire family because it affects more than just the child.

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Megan Zemple

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