Arthur L. Caplan, PhD, the Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics in the Department of Population Health at NYU Langone Health and the founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics, is co-chairing a newly created United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) Advisory Panel on Sports, Recreation, and Health. It will guide more than 1,400 mayors across the country to safely reopen recreational facilities and administer sports programs after closures due to the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The interdisciplinary panel is a collaboration between the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Health, the Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport at NYU School of Professional Studies, and the USCM, bringing together some of the country’s leading sports and public health experts.
“While we know sports stadiums and arenas will not be packed anytime soon, there are methodical steps that communities and sports teams can take now to prepare for a new normal that will bring back some of the energy, healing power, and economic stimulus that sports and recreation can offer cities across the nation left reeling by the coronavirus pandemic,” says Dr. Caplan. “Our recommendations will bring the best in scientific findings so that communities can develop safe and practical solutions for their residents.”
Lee H. Igel, PhD, clinical associate professor at the Preston Robert Tisch Institute for Global Sport, is another of four advisory panel co-chairs and has a longstanding collaborative relationship with Dr. Caplan. Together, they have written dozens of articles addressing ethical issues in sports and recreation.
“Sports are about so much more than team spirit and local pride,” says Dr. Igel. “They are key engines to local economies, and many sports-related businesses are in danger of failing due to the economic fallout of the virus. While our recommendations for reopening will place the safety and security of players, fans, and community residents above all, we must also find ways to stimulate as many of these businesses as we can.”
In the months ahead, the panel will add members as new issues arise. It also plans to conduct research, surveys, and reports using the resources of all member organizations.
“Mayors are on the front lines battling this pandemic and need this kind of advice to help them safely reopen their communities, especially for families and children,” says Bryan K. Barnett, mayor of Rochester Hills, Michigan, and USCM president. “I’m happy this panel will be available to all mayors as we bring the best experts together to assist them in their planning now and in the future.”