If you thought the flu epidemic in the New York metro area was bad already, it’s getting worse. In fact, now it’s even temporarily killing off two of the most treasured past times in youth sports.
As reported by the New York Post and a variety of other sources, a Manhattan-based youth soccer club has acted to discourage its elementary school athletes from giving each other high fives or even walking through the traditional postgame handshake line. The reason? Officials are worried that contact from high fives and handshakes could spread flu germs.
In an email sent out to parents, the Manhattan Soccer Club (MSC) outlined a variety of ways to minimize flu risks among its players, including the following paragraph:
At this point the MSC Board and the coaching staff would recommend that players not shake/touch hands with opponents after the games. The safest thing to do is to touch elbows. The coach or manager can explain this to the other team prior to the game.
While the email doesn’t explicitly outline high fives or handshakes, it does go to lengths to discourage them from ever taking place.
And while the soft-ban might seem severe, at least one parent expressed support for the ban when speaking to the Post.
“It shows that [the club] is on top of what is going on with the flu outbreak, and they have come up with a great solution that shows good sportsmanship while also reducing the chance of transferring the flu,” Andy Stenzler, whose 10-year-old daughter plays with MSC, told the Post.
There are no established timelines for how long the handshake/high five ban will continue, but it certainly won’t end anytime soon given the rampant concern over the spread of the winter 2013 flu. Data from CBS New York and other sources have indicated that nearly 20,000 cases of flu have been reported in New York state through Monday, roughly five times as many as were reported in 2011-12. More troublingly, two New York children and 18 kids nationwide have died from complications from the flu already this year.
If MSC has anything to do with it, that number won’t swell with any soccer players in Manhattan.
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