With our worlds having been turned upside down during the last eighteen months, one thing is certain: people are eager to return to sports. Athletes are excited to leave the house and play ball again. Parents are relieved that their children are getting some much-needed exercise. We’re all prepared, but our return to play won’t be a return to normal, at least not right away.

Regardless of their level of concern, most, if not all, parents recognize that things will have to change in the future. There will be some safeguards to consider, new procedures will have to be implemented and health and safety will take precedence.

Some parents have offered their thoughts on the return to sports in the context of the new normal. The following are some of the concerns they had in mind.

The first expectation is that clubs and teams will take the situation seriously. This entails devising strategies and procedures to ensure that every participant is safe. Parents will feel more at ease knowing that their club has established clear practice and game-day protocols, as well as standards for all members to follow and a response plan in the event one amongst them tests positive for Covid. 

Ideally, and it goes without saying, members should be notified if someone tests positive or has been exposed to someone who has tested positive. Let everyone know how they’ll hear from you and what actions you’ll take, such as how long that member will be off the field and how long it’ll take for them to get back.

Secondly, while everyone’s contribution is important, parents want to know that coaches and volunteers who will be on the field or on the sidelines have been thoroughly trained on the new procedures which vary from between countries, regions and states. This will almost certainly entail ensuring that members undergo temperature checks and health assessments before entering the field, as well as adhering to social distancing and masking standards that are practiced in your state region or country. 

Thirdly, Parents anticipate clubs will rethink where, when, and how their children return to the field. It is typical to be concerned about competing outside of the state or even the country. For the time being it will be prudent to look for opportunities to attend local activities instead of traveling. To reduce the number of people who must be present at any given moment, schedule games throughout the day or week and spread practices among fields as much as possible. You will certainly be reducing the number of players on the field. Consider changing the pace of play and avoiding excessive physical contact or proximity, such as huddles.

Last but not the least, adapting to change is inevitable. As recommendations, rules, and criteria continue to evolve, your strategies and practices will have to change to keep up with them. Remember that no plan is flawless. What works today might not work tomorrow. The best you can do is keep an eye on what’s going on in your neighborhood and listen to what your stakeholders have to say.