Hockey parents want to check Pritzker on COVID-19 restrictions

Hockey parents want to check Pritzker on COVID-19 restrictions

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s COVID-19 restrictions on youth hockey have parents questioning the science and logic of the decision.

Youth athletics are healthy activities, especially when the sport’s protective gear serves as a barrier to spreading COVID-19.

But Gov. J.B. Pritzker defied logic to decide hockey posed a bigger risk of spreading the coronavirus than basketball.

The National Hockey League is back to action in Edmonton and Toronto, Canada. The pros have recorded zero positive cases of COVID-19 from over 7,000 test results.

Yet Pritzker deemed amateur hockey too dangerous to be played in Illinois.

Thousands of hockey parents disagree.

More than 10,500 parents have signed a petition asking Pritzker to reconsider labeling hockey a high-risk sport for COVID-19 transmission. Under his latest guidelines, hockey players cannot even practice as a team for fear of spreading the virus. Yet, basketball was categorized as a medium-risk sport, which allows them to practice.

Pritzker’s decision appeared to ignore science and understanding of the situation, M. Todd Henderson, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, wrote in Newsweek. While basketball players are in close contact, breathing on each other and sweating, hockey players largely remain farther apart, especially in youth leagues, he argued.

USA Hockey found there is virtually no contact for kids under 13, and it is rare in older youths. The uniforms themselves protect players when contact occurs. Players wear uniforms and gloves and only touch their own gear. Youth players also have strong face shield requirements, meaning many cannot breathe on other players like basketball and football players do.

“To government bureaucrats, ‘contact’ sports may seem all alike, and it make sense to lump together football, hockey and wrestling. But the people who know these sports intimately have devoted their lives to them and have information that may be able to be used to make them safe. It is very unlikely that Governor Pritzker could design an approach to reduce the risk at a hockey game; but tell the people that manage these teams and these rinks to develop a plan that will keep everyone safe, and they may be able to do it. We should give them the chance to try,” Henderson wrote.

Kids across Illinois are losing opportunities because of ill-informed or political decisions by adults. Illinois should be following the science and the advice of those with expertise, as well as common sense.

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