Coronavirus makes sports risky. Here’s how to be safe outside

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Photo: AP/Morry Gash

There was some hope that the easing of lockdown restrictions would allow a coronavirus-free world to emerge in late summer and things would be back to normal by now. The situation has proved otherwise, and without a vaccine, it looks as if the precarious dance with the virus will now continue for some time. It’s not surprising then that sports are slowly returning as people need the wellness and entertainment that it brings. But how safe is it, really, and what measures can we take to stay safe. 

Play Less Risky Sports

There is no guaranteed way to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when playing any sport. The virus is transmitted through droplets of water which are in abundance during physical activity. That said, the chances of contracting the virus when playing sports can be reduced by employing certain best practices. Playing sports in which the transmission risk is lower would be one of them. 

Since sport is so crucial for mental and emotional health, we need to find a balance between playing outdoor sports and staying safe from the virus. While not ideal, that may mean compromising is certain ways, such as playing a less risky sport, with less transmission potential. High-risk activities include football, rugby, basketball, while lower-risk activities are running and tennis. 

You might think that tennis is a high-risk sport too, players are always wiping their brows with sweatbands and surely the virus could transmit by touching the ball. According to research, there is some risk of transmission occurring in this way, but it’s a far lower risk than person-to-person contact. Running is similar, there is not a net-zero risk, but physical distancing is much easier to implement. 

Take Safety Precautions 

The nature of Covid-19 and how it spreads is still to be fully understood. It’s clear, however, that if someone is infected with the virus, they are highly contagious. Due to the incubation period, a person may not know they are carrying the virus for some time, making spreading it more likely. We do know the Covid-19 virus is mainly spread through water droplets in person-to-person contact. 

The virus can also be transmitted through objects. If someone coughs or sneezes on a bench, ball, or racket, the virus can live there for up to three days and infect anyone who touches the surface. It is reported that some surfaces are easier for the virus to live on than others and that some surfaces don’t transmit at all, such as coins. But further research is needed, and extra safety precautions are always recommended.

In relation to outdoor sports, these precautions will include wearing masks when not on the field playing, using hand sanitiser frequently on the sidelines, and avoiding physical contact where necessary. This means eliminating high-fives and post-match handshakes. Other precautions for outdoor sports include frequent hand washing, reducing contact between the hands and the face, and only playing outdoor sports with members of your immediate household or sporting bubble.

Avoid High-Fives 

Ever since lockdown restrictions were introduced people have been feeling isolated and in need of physical activity and human interaction. But with no hope of a vaccine until next year at the earliest, the situation is set to continue through the winter months. It’s not surprising then that many people are beginning to take some moderate risks to retrieve their former lifestyles, and investing in basketball shoes online in Australia.

Undoubtedly, outdoor sports is one aspect of life so vital for our mental and emotional wellbeing. It isn’t just the physical exercise. It’s also the human interaction, and sense of accomplishment. The physicality of sport extends well beyond the activities themselves, it includes interactions on the field as well, and post-match. 

In some cases, these physical interactions are unavoidable. In other cases, they are not. Striking a balance between playing outdoor sports for the good of our sanity and health and protecting our loved ones and us from the deadly virus, is the game we have to play between now and next year. Although it might prove difficult to adapt instinctual behaviours such as high-fives and handshakes from the game, it is a vital component of this lifestyle compromise. 

If Unwell – Don’t Play 

Coming into the winter months, there are lots of viruses and germs going around. Just because you have a running nose or a small cough, doesn’t mean you have the deadly Coronavirus. That said, if you are concerned you might have it, the safest thing to do, for you and the people around you, is to get tested. The chances of you having Covid-19 are indeed low, but there is still a chance. 

The chances of you having Covid-19 are low, thanks in large part to the strict measures undertaken in society. A formidable lockdown that crushed the economy, shielding measures, quarantine measures, mask-wearing, and physical distancing, have proved effective in reducing the spread of the virus in the absence of a vaccine. But the success of the measures is dependent on the compliance of people. 

For outdoor sports to continue in any form, it’s participants must understand the risks involved in playing games like soccer, rugby, and basketball. Simply because the games are being played doesn’t mean things are back to how they were before. Quite the opposite, we all need to observe extra precautions at every turn. So even the slightest illness this winter should mean that game-time is off for you until you’re over it.  

Physically Distance 

Physical distancing has proved to be an excellent temporary measure for controlling the virus. We’ve seen how the numbers start to increase when restrictive measures are eased. But obviously, this physical distancing is impossible in some outdoor sports. That’s not to say; they can’t still operate if certain practices are adhered to.

Off the field, and even on the sidelines physical distancing – which is set at 2 meters apart – needs to be implemented for the health and safety of yourself and others. This, could with mask-wearing, is proving effective foil to the virus temporarily and allowing outdoor sports at professional and amateur levels to take place safely.