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All the questions we are asking ourselves as return of youth sports takes shape

Shrinking time, virus guidelines among big obstacles for youth sports as they prepare to return

Stock image (AP Photo/Will Graves, File)
Stock image (AP Photo/Will Graves, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The start of June is usually an important time for youth sports around the country.

With more states lifting stay-at-home orders and loosening restrictions, it could lead to the return of youth sports sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will not only send kids back to playing the sports they love, but also somewhat salvage a more than $19.2 billion industry, according to Research & Markets.

While many parents are anxious to get their kids involved in traditional sports and activities, there are still questions about when and how their loved ones will return to the playing surface.

Have youth sports already returned in some states?

Yes, and as early as Mother’s Day weekend. Back on May 9 and 10, a youth baseball tournament was held in suburban St. Louis that featured about 550 kids between the ages 7 and 14. The games had social-distancing rules, including umpires being required to call balls and strikes 6 feet from behind the pitcher and the dugout being limited to three players at a time. While it generated some controversy among health experts, the tournament organizer said everyone involved followed the guidelines and the tournament was a success.

Which states have publicly said they are soon giving the green light?

While organizations in just about every state are formulating plans to return, some states have already set in motion dates for a return to action. The Ohio Department of Health said youth leagues for non-contact and limited-contact sports were able to start May 26, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said youth sports and camps could start back up May 31, with games likely starting in mid-June, while Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis lifted restrictions on youth sports in his state May 22.

What safety precautions will need to be in place?

Knowing how big of an economic impact youth sports have and how anxious communities are to get them started, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a series of guidelines for organizations to follow. Click here to read the full guidelines.

The guidelines give recommendations to communities and organizations on matters such as social distancing, cleaning, coverings, sharing equipment, hygiene, how close players should be to one another and what to do should someone get sick.

Is it already too late?

It depends on the level of a sport.

For parents who have kids in local recreational leagues, the time might have already passed since April and May are big months for recreation leagues to start or have seasons. Unless some community leagues are offering a delayed start to their season, they might just say forget it until 2021.

For more serious and expensive travel sports, this might be about the time organizations start seasons and playing prominent tournaments, but the clock is ticking.

Typically, seasons for baseball, softball, soccer, and other travel sports are wrapped up by the middle or end of July, because come August, football season is starting back up, and the start of the school year in many states is looming.

If games don’t start soon, there likely won’t be much of a season to play or tournaments to go to.


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