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Can organized sports practices resume? Can professional sports resume?

Last Updated: 08/31/2020

Organized Sports

Organized sports activities have restarted in stages.

Low-risk, non-contact sports, such as golf and tennis, can resume practices and competitions, indoors and outdoors.

Medium- and high-risk sports, including baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, and football can resume contact practices and competitions in outdoor settings only. Non-contact practices and drills can resume in both indoor and outdoor settings.

The Department of Health has issued guidance for organized sports with further details on which sports are defined in which category, how to create a sports program preparation plan, how to prepare a facility for sports practices, how to conduct sports practices, and how to prepare for games and tournaments.

All sports will have to abide by a number of health and safety protocols in the guidance, including screenings for athletes, coaches, and staff, limited equipment sharing, strong requirements for disinfecting and sanitizing equipment, and cooperating with local health departments on contact tracing.

Staff, parents, guardians, and visitors are required to wear cloth face coverings at practices and games. Athletes are encouraged to wear masks during downtime, but not during physical activity.
All competitions or tournaments must abide by the limit on outdoor gatherings, which is currently limited to 500 people.

Fall School Sports Season

Sports under the jurisdiction of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) or the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) must also abide by those associations' rules.

The final determination on the fall high school sports seasons will be made by the NJSIAA, and school districts will make the ultimate decision on whether teams will resume competition.

A student-athlete's ability to participate with their team will not be altered in any way - regardless of whether they participate in remote-learning or in-person instruction.

Note: A new law waives the requirement to complete an annual pre-participation physical examination for any student-athlete enrolled in grade six to 12 who either completed a physical examination during the 2019-2020 school year or completed a physical examination that allowed the student to participate on a school-sponsored interscholastic or intramural athletic team or squad during the 2019-2020 school year.

A student-athlete who has not completed a physical examination within 365 days prior to the first day of official practice in the athletic season is permitted to participate on a school-sponsored athletic team provided they complete the physical examination before the end of the athletic season.

Professional Sports

Professional sports teams which train or play in New Jersey can practice and engage in games or matches, if their leagues resume competition.

The State has been in constant discussions with these teams about the protocols they will have in place to protect the health and safety of the players, coaches, and team personnel - including facilities where proper sanitation and hygiene practices can be readily maintained.

Source: Executive Order No. 148; Executive Order No. 149, Guidance for Sports Activities; Executive Order No. 161; Executive Order No. 163; https://nj.gov/governor/news/news/562020/approved/20200812b.shtml