ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — The new guidelines for youth sports that take effect Monday in St. Louis County ban high school athletes from playing high-contact sports, prompting some school districts to schedule games outside of the county. It's a move that County Executive Sam Page cautioned against.
"We believe that the activities that we have limited in our public health orders are important and not following these restrictions and guidelines do endanger these students, whether they play in St. Louis County or somewhere else," Page said during a Monday morning briefing.
Page said the health department is not ready to lift the restrictions on sports, such as football, wrestling and basketball, citing high positivity rates among older teens.
"The recommendations are these high-contact sports should not be played among the age group where the positivity rate is as high as it is now," Page said. "Our health department is not recommending they be played and certainly not played somewhere else where the positivity rate is even higher."
Two of the largest public school districts in St. Louis County, the Rockwood School District and Parkway Schools, have announced their football teams will play games outside of the county.
"I'd love to see the Friday night football games under Friday night lights as soon as possible, but we're not quite there yet," Page said. "We're very sensitive to the enthusiasm, passion and sincerity of the folks advocating for high-contact sports to be played."
High school students will be allowed to participate in moderate-contact sports, like soccer and baseball.
The guidelines allow middle school athletes to participate in all sports.
Across all age levels and sports, there are still no tournaments, performances, competitions, or showcases permitted, such as bracket-style play where multiple teams play back-to-back, according to the guidelines. Two spectators per athlete are allowed to attend games.
In the City of St. Louis, the acting director of the health department will be meeting with the superintendent of Saint Louis Public Schools Monday to discuss youth sports.