All the talk of summer baseball, of professional sports leagues laying groundwork and of the landscape of sports for the remainder of the year has had me all kinds of worked up the last couple weeks.
Like so many of you, I am beyond ready to get back to the pop of a glove and the ping of a bat and all of the other sights, sounds and smells of sports. But in the past few days, I have heard coaches talk about getting back in action, and then about shortened seasons, and then the pure depth and breadth of the reality of keeping players, coaches and spectators safe. And suddenly, I have found myself not so ready.
On the local level, coaches are debating where it’s safe to play, how to go about sanitizing equipment that gets passed around every few minutes, and about the liability and morality of putting kids back on the field. There is certainly some sense of urgency to return kids to normalcy, and other local communities have been adamant about getting the season rolling. And there are, of course, those who feel the whole thing is overblown and that the season should never have been in question.
I’m not going to get into numbers or my thoughts on the Coronavirus and how we are handling it — as long as everyone is being responsible and taking care of those around them, I think it’s fine for everyone to have their own opinion on the matter. Believe me, I’m just as ready as anyone else to gripe about umpires and cheer a good play or a big hit, and I understand that we all hate to see kids miss out on what were important milestones for ourselves, but I find myself again and again coming back to the value of the action.
The point that I keep getting stuck on is whether the effort is worth the risk, the work, and the reward. To start with, most leagues will be short-handed as some teams will likely not play, and the season will be shrunk down to three to four weeks at the most once games get in swing.
Is reconfiguring entire leagues and seasons worth six or seven games?
Every situation will be different, but I doubt most leagues will hold tournaments or playoffs, so there really won’t be much on the line besides playing baseball for the sake of playing baseball. Now, don’t get me wrong — I am big on the idea of playing sports for the sake of the sports alone. I do see the value in that.
Keep in mind that our local leagues do not have much by way of resources, so when it comes to the multitude of social distancing and sanitizing requirements that are likely to be in place if the seasons ever do get going, feasibility may be a major concern. Add to that the measures that will be needed to ensure safe travel to any away games, as well as keeping to allowed gathering numbers, and the whole venture may not even be possible to do safely and responsibly. The massive amount of planning and effort that will go into playing baseball this summer might very well be worth it to those involved — but will they feel the same way if two days before the first game a kid in another town comes down with a case of COVID-19 and the whole thing goes up in a puff of smoke.
And finally, the risk. One kid — just one — getting sick and potentially worse should be the starting point of considering whether this whole thing is worth doing. As responsible adults, we have to factor in the liability standpoint, which surely exists, but the thought of a kid getting sick because we are in a hurry to get back to baseball is a little scary.
I also can’t it get it out of my head that getting kids back to school in the fall is the most important thing, and I would hate to risk that. I know everyone is going to have their own thoughts, and we will see where the city lands on Monday evening as summer rec is an agenda item at their regular meeting, but I am falling further and further toward the side of not believing games are worth it this summer.