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Sanitizing Slam Dunks: How to Stay Healthy During March Madness

March 4, 2024by Global Ozone

March Madness is here — and it’s like Christmas for us sports fans. Who doesn’t love building their bracket, following the Cinderella stories, and engaging in some friendly competition for the office pool? 

But for athletes, this can be a stressful time with extremely high stakes. The stress on their bodies from playing in game after game can take a toll, even causing reduced immune responses. It’s a top priority for players to stay healthy so they can play at their peak potential. 

Whether you coach NCAA basketball or help out with your kid’s rec league team, you need to know how to protect the team from season-ending illnesses that are common among athletes. 

Why are tournaments so dangerous? 

We all know that playing in tournaments can put a lot of stress on athletes’ bodies, causing sprains and other injuries that can put star players on the bench. But did you know that athletes are also at high risk of illness? 

For most people, workouts can improve immune function — but athletes are different. While athletes are certainly in excellent physical shape, the intensity of their workouts can actually diminish their immune system’s performance. This leads to higher incidences of cold, flu, and other diseases that reach their peak during basketball season. 

And of course, during a tournament, athletes are in contact with a lot of different people and environments. Teams will visit new locker rooms every game and expose themselves to the germs lurking there. Basketball is also a contact-heavy sport, where players may find themselves in contact with the other team’s players throughout the game. The exposure to both new locker room germs and any germs carried by other teams could result in serious illnesses and outbreaks. 

Common Sports-related Diseases

You probably know how quickly the flu or a cold can run through a close-knit team, but are you taking precautions to prevent these other dangerous (and potentially deadly) infections?

  • Staph infection
  • MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus )
  • E. Coli
  • Pseudomonas
  • RSV
  • Candida albicans

These germs are commonly found in locker rooms, on sports equipment, and even on the skin of athletes. With so many risk factors at play, it’s important to step up your sanitation game as part of your tournament prep. 

Sports Sanitation Best Practices

Information is the most powerful tool in your arsenal to prevent outbreaks within your team. Make sure your coaching staff, players, and team parents know how to practice sufficient hand hygiene, treat and cover open wounds, and avoid sharing potentially contaminated gear. 

But preparation goes beyond preaching good hygiene. If you know that your gear and locker rooms are hot spots for germs, you can take measures to prevent infections on your team. Ask yourself a few questions about your hygiene protocols: 

  • Do you sanitize gear (knee pads, basketballs, mouthguards, etc.) only at the beginning of the season? 
  • Do players ever share gear?
  • Are there any musty odors in your locker room? 
  • Are players sitting on the ground during team meetings in the locker room? 
  • Has your team experienced staph and MRSA infections this season?

If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you need to overhaul your disinfection practices — before it’s too late. Gear should be sanitized between every use, even if it isn’t shared among multiple players. If your players are sharing gear, you should double down on safety precautions to prevent MRSA and staph infections. 

Oh, and that odor is more than a nuisance. It’s a huge red flag for microbial growth in your locker room and on your equipment. If you can’t seem to rid your facilities of funky odors, then you need a stronger, better way to sanitize. 

Defend Against Germs 

You wouldn’t let the other team dribble straight down the court and dunk on you — don’t let germs do that, either. Build a strong defense that’s ready to trip up germs before they knock your team out of the tournament. 

The best, fastest way to sanitize gear is with a Sports-O-Zone sanitizing system. Powered by ozone, our sanitizing chambers attack and eliminate germs better than bleach. In just 32 minutes, your gear will come out safe to use, and smelling fresh.

When you need to sanitize an entire locker room (whether at home or visiting), the Gear Blaster is your best friend. Simply place the Gear Blaster in a room and leave it running overnight. By the time you return the next morning, the locker room will be a safe place for your team to prepare for the big game. 

Eliminate germs and put safety at the center of your bracket with Sports-O-Zone. Reach out today for a quote.