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Canceled Sports Seasons Leave a Void for Kids and Parents: How to Cope

On top of tough choices about school and work, parents are also grappling with the question of whether to let their children play organized sports during the coronavirus pandemic.

Youth sports may seem like a small concern in the context of the rising coronavirus death toll, but sports are a big deal and a lifeline for many kids.

Amber Faust and her husband are not letting their daughter Piper, 13, play soccer this coming season for the school team because of the threat of the virus.

“She understands: My husband’s a medic, so our family is probably going to get it," said Faust, who believes her family will probably be fine. "But she understands that we don’t want to be reckless and we don’t want to pass it on to someone whose mom or grandma isn’t going to be fine,” Faust, who lives in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, told TODAY Parents.

It’s a blow for Piper, who loves the game.

“She leaves practice every day giggling and smiling and sweaty and red, but smiling,” her mom said.

“I was really looking forward to senior year. To not play, I’d be really saddened by that,” George told TODAY about the possibility of not playing this fall. “It’s such a big thing for a senior to play their last year in football because of senior night and homecoming and all these big things, to not play it would be a huge disappointment to me.”

For teens who have been working toward a sports scholarship to college or who hope to play beyond high school, the cancellation of a season can feel especially devastating.

“Anybody who is evaluating kids’ commitment to their sport or their level of engagement will recognize that, ‘Well, yeah, you didn’t play sports in fall of 2020, that doesn’t mean you don’t care about your sport.' We know that other things happened,” Chuck Kalish, director for Science at the Society for Research in Child Development in Washington, D.C., told TODAY.

“Help the kids understand that everybody will be understanding that this is a hard time,” he added.

Leagues and teams have recommended masks and instituted social distancing guidelines, but there are no guarantees. Former Major League Baseball player Curtis Granderson thinks baseball is a good sport for kids during the pandemic because “there is limited contact,” but he wonders if playing makes sense in the big scheme of things.

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