Summer baseball for all levels is entirely doable this summer. It is just a matter of how and when.
With many seasons still on hold, a youth sports task force is going to bat for the youngers this summer.
The journey to finding a safe way for youth sports in the state of Minnesota is underwaey. Todd Johnson is the executive director of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Commission and is one of the representations is building a template for the youth to return to the ballfield this year.
As recent as last week, there have been conference calls taking place on Zoom and the template will be sent to Tarek Tomes, the commissioner of Minnesota IT Services. Tomes is also the state of Minnesota’s chief information officer. On Monday, May 18 the restrictions to the current stay-at-home order and things loosen up a little bit, giving optimism for youth sports.
Tomes is also heading the task force for Governor Walz to handle youth sports. This template will be a set of guidelines where baseball, softball, summer basketball, etc will create additional procedures to fit their sports.
Not just directors of sport programs, but facility coordinators have also been part of the conversation.
Many states that are opening up caught wind of Minnesota’s proposed guidelines and ran with them. Many of those states are beginning youth sports in the coming weeks. Ohio is beginning youth sports with guidelines on May 26. The current template being proposed to the Governor has special guidelines to meet the social distancing criteria and has a proposal to start practices May 26 and games on June 15. Although officials believe that the May 26 date may be moved to June 1 by state representatives.
An ER Doctor in Iowa is also a high school softball coach. He sent a guideline template to Iowa officials. Some included: umpires recommended to wear masks, home dugout is in charge of sanitizing baseballs and the person sanitizing the baseballs wear gloves, no sharing equipment, or if equipment is shared, wipe down in between uses, masks would be optional, and participation would be voluntary. Each time a player takes the field, he/she would need to sanitize their hands, fans can attend but maintain the six foot distancing policy, and no bleacher seating. Concessions would include quick-grab items only. Water, gatorade, pop, candy bars, seeds, etc. No hot foods. Workers recommended to be masked and/or gloved. Dugouts could try and space out to six feet, or teams that need the space could use bleacher seating.
Practices would be allowed to no more than 10 people at a time, including coaches. The doctor closed out by stating the obvious. If you are sick or feeling sick, stay home.
Other ideas Minnesota could adapt to would be how South Dakota Amateur baseball is embracing the social distancing. Players are allowed to stand outside of the dugouts to create space. Umpires have a choice, stand behind the plate as normal, or stand behind the pitcher’s mound. Equipment sharing is not prohibited, but suggested to be limited. Players are asked to use batting gloves when hitting. Managers must social distancing during mound visits, hand sanitizers placed in the dugouts, fans must social distance, fans are encouraged but in no way forced to wear masks. Lastly, teams give a “tip of the cap” opposed to shaking hands following the game.
All in all, baseball and softball is entirely doable this summer. It is just a matter of how and when.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, May 20. Minnesota Department of Health cleared the way for practices to begin as long as groupings did not exceed 10 people beginning June 1.