Getty Images, photo by Mariya Bibikova

Here’s something to think about the next time you go play a friendly game of pick-up basketball or play volleyball at a company picnic, the balls you’re playing with could be spreading germs. The same goes for organized play for all levels of competition.

A new study presented to the American College of Sports Medicine shows germs can be spread among athletes using the equipment, bacteria and staph infection are on the surface of the balls as well as the player’s hands. Basically, a gym environment is a reservoir of germs. The staph infection known as MRSA is particular a threat because it is resistant to most antibiotics.

The bottom line of the study is that coaches, trainers and athletes need to be aware that regular and thorough cleaning of sports equipment can help reduce the risk of contracting bacteria.