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A Parents Journey for Youth Sports During the COVID Pandemic

The first lockdown was brutal for my families mental health. We had no idea of the positive impact baseball has on my family and the well being of my kids. Evaluating the risk was not easy.

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August 2020

My son and I have been involved with select baseball for over 4 years now. He loves the sport and his passion is felt both on and off the field. We finally landed on a team with a coach that pushes him to be a better player and as a result we won a few championships in 2019! Training all winter in small group sessions the 2020 baseball season was poised to be even better…then COVID-19 hits.

As we all remember early last year the intensity of the spread, the fear and uncertainty of its impact if you had contracted COVID. As a result, my son’s epic baseball season was over before it even started.

The Early Days

We often spent our time remembering our trips to visit MLB stadiums and watching previously recorded games. COVID health information was scarce but it was starting to come out. It was a scary time during the lockdown and our kids felt the impact. They were starting to withdraw socially as they had not really seen any of the their friends for a few months.

Then by late April, our little baseball world saw our first ray of hope. Our state announced that baseball could resume for tournament play as early as June and practice could commence mid-May. Other sports were still undecided but we had at least we had something. However, as parents, we had to face the decision if it was worth the risk?

Evaluating Risk for Youth Sports

The COVID pandemic was very real and in our eyes very aggressive. Our parents were in a high risk category and we feared for them. The fact remained that our kids were also suffering from being indoors and not being able to socially interact. We knew that their mental health was also at stake. Not just our families but our friend’s children were in the same situation as we heard about the negative impact it had on them. Almost like the movie Sophie’s Choice, the decision is almost impossible…interact with people outside our family or stay the course and stay inside.

Honestly, we had no idea if our son’s teammates families were being as careful as we were. If they were in close proximity or had contracted COVID. Obviously we couldn’t share equipment like catcher’s gear but could they share the same bats? What about the baseball as that is touched by the whole team?

Yes, I realize some of the questions we were asking may seem silly but we took COVID pretty serious. We decided to place our children’s mental and physical health first. Virtual school drained the entire family where our stress levels were too high. This we determined could be a positive release.

So yes, for our family, it was worth the risk. Almost our entire baseball team also determined it was worth the risk but we all wanted to place precautions during practice and if we played in tournaments.

Our Compromise

Thankfully our coach was outstanding. His wife recently had a newborn and they wanted to be as careful as we were. I heard horror tales of other baseball team situations later on so we were very lucky. Our parents worked with the coach to maintain as much physical space as possible during practice. As this was baseball being far apart from each other was a natural part of the game that eased parents concerns.

Those boys that wanted to wear masks were permitted and all of the parents contributed to bring sanitizing wipes to wipe down anything and everything.

Our baseball tournaments schedule was intense but as the team was committed to safety, we sprayed the dugout with Clorox and the boys wore their masks before and after the game. We did have one parent notify the team they were self -quarantining due to a potential COVID exposure. We all appreciated that and we were glad to see them back a few weeks later.

Sadly, ALOT of parents and teams do not follow the same safety protocol we did. We see them in close proximity to each other without masks, yelling and cheering for the boys. I am thankful we are better than that.

Was it worth the risk?

Each family has to come to terms with that question in my opinion. For us, yes. My son’s mental health vastly improved and our home life also was cheerful. My daughter runs around during practice playing with fellow team mates siblings laughing and playing (with masks on). So yes, we know the risk. We know we could expose loved ones every weekend my son plays baseball. However, the good outweighs the bad and I feel that is okay.

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