State committee set to recommend youth sports reopen, but a doctor says not so fast

Updated: May. 6, 2020 at 7:10 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS, La. - Kids sports may be one of the first group activities back online when Louisiana enters phase one of reopening. Some organizations and leagues are just waiting for the go-ahead, but at least one doctor thinks that will be too soon.

Empty fields reign where kids of all ages typically show off their skills and thousands are itching to get back into play. Eric Perrilloux coaches the St. John Grays.

He said, “I have kids call me every day ‘Coach when are we going to practice.’”

The team participates in three different organizations that host tournaments around the country. The team has quite a bit of success.

“Three World Series, a bunch of state championships. All we do is win," Perrilloux said.

While the kids he’s coached from 4 to 13 years old want to get back to winning there are some questions.

“It’s going to be totally different," he said.

The Louisiana Resilience Commission charged by Governor Edwards with making recommendations with respect to the economy said they will recommend youth sports leagues be allowed to operate in phase one.

Kyle Edmiston offered the announcement through a zoom meeting of the hospitality and tourism committee with the commission on Tuesday. Edmiston is with the Lake Charles Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“We believe that the guidelines which are a couple of pages long would allow youth sports to begin again on the 16th in a limited fashion,” he said.

Restrictions on the number of kids in dugouts, the spacing of fans and ticketless entry were some measures outlined. One group the Grays play with have mentioned masks, and limiting use of bleachers.

"After the game shaking hands. They are not going to let them shake hands. They are going to tell them to line up on the first base side and the third base side and just raise their hats,” Perrilloux said.

Dr. James Diaz an expert in public health with LSU Health Sciences doesn’t think those measures will be good enough with most typical summer sports.

“That’s why we call them contact sports you have to be in close contact to be a good player," Diaz said.

He said games like soccer, lacrosse, even baseball and softball offer too much of a chance for transmission.

“All of these sports you are going to be breathing heavily and remember the virus replicates in the air for up to 3 hours and it can be transmitted up to 6 feet even farther if you have a big sneeze," Diaz said.

He also said while kids often don’t show symptoms, “They're actually very good transmitters of the disease and a few can get very sick."

He does want them to get outside. Diaz recommends more individual sports, “Golf, tennis, track maybe even volleyball.”

He said even swimming is a good option. Perrilloux said his kids really miss the game and each other.

“The kids they are more like brothers.” Spending a lot of time together over video games since they can’t be on the field," he said.

Fox 8 checked in with several parish recreation departments and right now all say they will follow guidance by the state. St. Tammany’s current plans place youth sports leagues in their phase two of opening.