As Maryland moves toward Phase Three reopening, Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced that youth tackle football and competitive cheerleading can resume.
Both were deemed “high-risk sports” in terms of COVID-19 transmission.
Pittman issued a news release Wednesday on the county’s plans to allow tackle football. He said that he had not yet gotten much feedback, but he added that for weeks, “I’ve gotten a lot of emails encouraging us to allow these football games to take place.”
Pittman said he recently met with parents who held protests to push for the authorization to hold tackle football games in the county’s recreational leagues.
“People were angry that the games might not be played,” Pittman said, but he added the state decision to move to Phase Three is good news.
“We’re really glad. I think football’s a great sport. I think there are so many life lessons that the kids learn. It’s a great team sport; it gets kids fit.”
Pittman said it was heartbreaking to have to restrict the games.
While the return of tackle football is welcome news, Pittman was asked what would happen if there’s an outbreak of COVID-19 tied to the sport.
“Well, there is the possibility — I mean this is true for every step in the Maryland Roadmap to Recovery.”
But Pittman said the recovery plan lays out courses of action.
“You take a step forward, and if the metrics are bad enough, you take a step back.”
The return of football comes after other sports, such as soccer, were already allowed. The move to Phase Three also allows cheerleading, deemed a high-risk sport for transmission like football.
The decision to move ahead was made by Pittman and Rick Anthony, the county’s director of Recreation and Parks, in consultation with county health officials.
Pittman said that he is pleased that there are more outlets for children to get active and stay fit, but he remains focused on getting schools reopened, “So that the kids can learn; the parents can have a break and get to work. That’s really our goal to get the numbers down, so that we can reopen our schools.”
And he said the metrics just aren’t there, as the county is still getting an average of about 50 new cases a day.
As the county works to cut the rate of transmission of the coronavirus, Pittman said that it is beneficial to allow kids to be active and enjoy team sports.
“We want all the kids out there playing sports and doing things and staying fit. We just have to be careful about it.”
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