The Manhattan Soccer Club has a new goal: keeping players flu-free by urging them to avoid high-fives and fist bumps.
In an email to parents, the youth sports organization said touching elbows as a congratulatory gesture is "the safest thing," the New York Post reports.
The message read, in part (via CBS New York):
If your player is sick, do not send him or her to practices or games. Keep your player home for 24 hours after there are no longer signs of a fever or other flu symptoms (cough, runny nose, sore throat, muscle aches). Keeping your sick player home will prevent other players from getting sick.
Speak to your doctor about the flu vaccine.
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.
The club, a youth "travel soccer" organization with more than 750 players, captured three state titles last year.
Parent Andy Stenzler lauded the group for its winning strategy to maintain sportsmanship while reducing the chances of players getting the flu, according to the New York Post.
On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo declared a public health emergency in a monster flu season, with more than 19,000 cases of influenza reported already in the state, compared to 4,404 in all of 2011-12, according to outlets. At least 20 children have died nationwide.
Even religious organizations are getting in the spirit of flu prevention. The New York Archdiocese sent out a note to its 400 parishes telling to refrain from chalice-sharing if need be, NBC News reports.
The Huffington Post reached out to several officials of the Manhattan Soccer Club for comment but did not receive an immediate response.