LAKEVILLE, IN. – For now, the Indiana High School Athletic Association expects high school sports to return in the fall. The Fall 2020 IHSAA tees off July 31 with the girls golf season. The remaining IHSAA fall sports – cross country, football, soccer, tennis, and volleyball – commence on August 3.
With the return of our student-athletes comes plenty of questions and concerns for parents about how to keep their kids safe when they officially return.
Please remember that this is hard stuff, implementing CDC guidelines. Our Schools need a lot of grace because this is uncharted territory. No one has been here before and there isn’t one right path that we can really see through this. Schools are putting themselves at risk trying to implement the guidelines. Please support the schools as they implement their masking plans. The more we can normalize this in our society, that wearing masks is just a new fashion statement, the more comfortable everyone will feel to do this.
Thank you for doing your part in helping the student-athlete, coaches, parents, patrons, and officials return to athletics!
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Through LaVille athletic trainer Gary Hall, ATC, we were able to communicate with Dr. Michael Messmer of Beacon Bone and Joint Specialist at Beacon Health System regarding what parents need to know.
Is it safe for high school sports to return in the fall?
“This is a tough question to answer. Protocols are being used and developed that are to ensure the social distancing and transfer of virus are mitigated, but there is really no way in sports to completely eliminate the risk. I would say that the IHSAA and schools are doing everything they can to mitigate the risk.”
What do schools and teams need to do to keep athletes safe?
“Social distancing wherever possible, use of masks, avoidance of too much contact when not required for sports, utilizing hand sanitizer and cleaning/sterilizing materials and products to make sure contact is minimized with surfaces that could hold the virus.”
Is it safe for fans to attend games?
“As long as social distancing, mask wearing, and avoidance of too much contact is done, it should be safe.”
So what about masks?
“It’s important to recognize that masks are not for protecting the wearer, they are for protecting the people around each wearer. By using a mask you are stopping any droplets that come out of your mouth when talking, etc., from getting onto the surface of another person where they could contract the virus. The more people that wear masks, the better chance to mitigate viral spread.”
Should players wear masks?
“Ideally, they should in my opinion, but this is very hard to accomplish in most sports, so some compromise has been for them to wear masks when they are not actively participating (such as when on the sideline)”
Any final words as people (schools/administrators/coaches/players/parents) deal with this situation?
“Please follow the guidelines set up by the state/county/district/school strictly. Remember that while younger folks don’t necessarily contract severe forms of the virus (though they absolutely can), they are spreaders of the virus, and it’s also the people they are around outside of the teams that we are trying to protect, such as those who are older or have medical conditions putting them at risk. When any questions or concerns arise, please discuss closely with your athletic trainer who is trained to handle this.”
Dr. Messmer received his medical degree from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in Erie, Pennsylvania, and completed his residency at St. James Health Center in Chicago and his fellowship at Metro Health Hospital and Health Centers in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Board-certified in family practice and sports medicine, Dr. Messmer has worked as Sports Medicine Medical Director at Mount Carmel Medical Group in Columbus, Ohio, and at St. Francis Health Center in Topeka, Kansas.
He has also worked as team physician for two professional teams, the Columbus Rugby Club, and the Columbus Eagles women’s soccer team. Additionally, he is the team physician for the U.S. Olympic Weightlifting team, covering both national and international events.
Dr. Messmer is Medical Director for Beacon Health & Fitness, which includes the Sports Performance Clinic at Beacon Bone and Joint Specialist at Beacon Health System Mishawaka.