County Executive Steuart Pittman announced today that the Anne Arundel Department of Health and the Department of Recreation and Parks have established guidelines for tackle youth football and competitive cheerleading stunts to resume.
On Thursday, August 27, the county had announced a modified fall football season limited to flag football, based on the Maryland Sports Commission’s Return to Play Committee Report guidelines. In the report, football is listed as a “high contact” sport, and recommended to proceed only at Stage 3, with local health officer approval. At that time, Maryland was in Stage 2 of the Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery.
On Tuesday, September 1, Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland would begin Stage 3 of the Roadmap to Recovery, effective September 4 at 5:00 p.m. Considering this announcement, County Executive Pittman and Director of Recreation and Parks Rick Anthony, in consultation with county health officials, will allow the youth football season to resume with tackle.
“I was uncomfortable with the risk classifications in the state of Maryland’s guidelines, and am pleased that our kids will now be allowed to play real tackle football,” said County Executive Pittman. “Football is a great sport that teaches important life lessons. I trust that our players and coaches will do the hard work of implementing the health department’s safety practices that will limit the spread of the virus, keep the season open, and allow us to achieve the new case rate standard required to get our kids back to their school classrooms. That’s our next challenge.”
“Sports are an important part of our community, and an important part of many families,” said Rick Anthony, Director of Recreation and Parks. “We admire the passion of the players and families and I am pleased that we are now able to give them an opportunity to play the sport they love. We will do everything we can to ensure a safe and successful season.”
County health officials continue to be concerned about the current number of COVID cases and the recent uptick in the county’s case rate and positivity rate. In Anne Arundel County, COVID-19 is still spreading through community transmission. At this point, the Department of Health recommends that high risk fall sports, including football and competitive cheer, make modifications to decrease risk, such as converting from tackle to flag football and continuing competitive cheer without stunts.
Football leagues that choose to move forward with tackle football and competitive cheer teams that choose to move forward with stunts should put additional safety measures in place to reduce distance and contact per CDC recommendations. The Department of Recreation and Parks will be issuing additional guidance on regulations and requirements for the fall youth football season. Information will be posted to the department’s website.