Football is a high-risk sport according to the NFHS that releases guidelines for re-opening high school sports

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The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) is giving states a blueprint for re-opening high school sports that includes placing sports in low-, moderate- and high-risk categories. All high school sports have been shutdown during the coronavirus pandemic.

There’s no surprise that football is in the higher-risk category along with boys’ lacrosse, competitive cheer and dance and wrestling.

Here are the other two risk categories:

Lower Risk Sports

  • individual running events, throwing events, individual swimming, golf, weightlifting, sideline cheerleading, and cross country running with staggered starts

Moderate Risk Sports

  • basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball, soccer, gymnastics, field hockey, tennis, swimming relays, pole vault, high jump, long jump, girls lacrosse, and 7-on-7 football

On Tuesday, the county’s governing body, for every state except Texas, released a document from the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), a 15-member advisory committee composed of medical doctors, certified athletic trainers, high school coaches and officials, research specialists and state high school association executives that outlines things that its membership should consider when re-opening all high school sports, including football.

Click here to see the entire Guidelines Document

Below is the entire story that is on the NFHS website:

The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) has released guidance for its 51 member state high school associations to consider in re-opening high school athletics and other activity programs across the nation.  

The guidance document was developed by the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC), a 15-member advisory committee composed of medical doctors, certified athletic trainers, high school coaches and officials, research specialists and state high school association executives that regularly develops position statements related to medical aspects of conducting high school athletics.  

In sharing this guidance document with state high school associations leaders on Monday, Michael Koester, M.D., chair of the NFHS SMAC, stressed that the guidance developed by the committee is intended as ideas for state associations to consider with their respective sports medicine committees and state health departments in designing return-to-activity plans that will be in accordance with state or local restrictions.   

Similar to the manner in which different parts of the country have re-opened ahead of others due to containment levels of the virus, the guidance document was developed with the realization that there likely will be variation in what sports and activities are allowed to be played and held from one part of the country to another.  

Along those same lines, the NFHS guidance document describes a staged approach to re-opening high school sports and other activities, similar to the phases of “opening up” outlined by the White House last month. The committee suggests that state high school associations consult with their state and local health departments for determining the appropriate dates for implementing a phased-in approach within their respective states.  

“We are greatly indebted to the NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee for its work in formulating this guidance for re-opening high school athletics and activities,” said Dr. Karissa Niehoff, NFHS executive director. “It is important to be clear that this is guidance for individual states to consider as they return to activities this fall. States will utilize the guidance in this document as it best fits their state after consulting with local and state health departments.” 

The guidance developed for state associations suggests a possible sport breakdown for higher risk, moderate risk and lower risk, with the basis for the breakdown tied to the potential exposure to respiratory droplets. As an example, the interaction of participants in higher-risk sports such as football and wrestling present more of a concern for transmission of the virus than lower-risk sports like individual running events and golf.  

“We believe this guidance document will be a tremendous resource for our member state associations as they determine the timetables for re-opening sports and activities,” Niehoff said. “The NFHS Sports Medicine Advisory Committee utilized recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as some return-to-play considerations by the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), in formulating this guidance document for re-opening athletics and other activities in our nation’s schools.”   

The NFHS guidance document also addresses a possible progression for returning to activities, hygiene practices, transportation to and from events, social-distancing suggestions during contests and a tiered approach to who should be allowed to attend events.


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About the Author

Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.