Playing Softball AFTER CoronaVirus – What to Expect…
Great news! Softball, in many parts of the country is BACK after the long lockdown from CoronaVirus. So many of us have heard horror stories, seen guidelines, and have been concerned about what playing softball AFTER CoronaVirus would look like? Today, we have a recap of a USFA tournament from yesterday that took place in Georgia. (Georgia has had several #softballunderground tournaments) and many teams have practiced and scrimmaged for over a month, but this weekend was the first ‘official opening”
((((Disclaimer))) For those of you NOT playing, know we are praying for you. And our Diamonds will shine again shirts are still just $5. See Below
We were provided a very lean list of guidelines up front (screenshot attached),
Including mostly common sense precautions. There were ‘recommendations’ of social distancing. Upon arriving at the park, there were no gate fees and it was instead built into the tournament fees. This was to avoid large lines of people congregating, and it was actually a blessing. Because we all know there is nothing worse than having all your stuff loaded up on you like a pack mule and then trying to locate exact change for a gate fee.
Rules were that defensive team would keep their own ball each inning.
Umpires were not supposed to touch the balls. So essentially each team was using their own ball defensively, but as soon as one or two or three were hit foul, that rule seemed to fall by the wayside without anyone noticing. We did not sanitize the ball. Plus, the kids are so accustomed to throwing the ball into the pitchers circle, that this guideline was aborted by game 2 or 3.
Umpires were in their regular positions. Thankfully. Just like the kids on the field, they were rusty, but seemingly joyous to be back out there. Be patient when you return to the field…the kids are definitely knocking off the DUST.
We were advised to follow simple common sense and keep sick people home *which we should do anyways* but no temps were checked at park entry. We did notice that there were not quite as many grandparent fans, but it was also unbelievably HOT and muggy.
Masks. At a park with around 25 teams, there was 1-2 persons wearing a mask. One was the tournament director who pulled it on whenever approached. Not sure who the other person was, or if they exist.
The pavilion area with picnic tables was off limits and was used for officials and employees. Not one player worse a mask (except for when fielding and trying to protect their face and teeth and it was metal not cloth. We did meet one or two coaches who maybe could have used one, but thats a story for a different post. SIDENOTE: The vast majority of GA is not wearing masks, and has not been wearing masks unless mandatory by their employer…
Plus, in all Honestly, it was 93 degrees with at least 80% humidity and it was difficult enough to stay hydrated and breathe without a piece of cloth obstructing air…. And there is nothing to suggest that masks on players would even be helpful, and would instead be detrimental and we are also pretty sure that the kids would probably touch them, store them in their cleats between games, drop them on the ground and wipe their sweat with them.
The girls were allowed to use the dugout as usual and teams were to provide sanitizing wipes to clean off bleachers. We were concerned about this because the DUGOUT is perhaps one of the most important and fun aspects of the game.
There were no trashcans in the dugout (also a really GOOD change because they are always over flowing anyways). And wowza, kids of all ages were super fantastic about cleaning up after themselves and stuffing their half drunken water bottles and wrappers and lids etc. into their batbags to be found in 5 months by an unsuspecting parent searching for a smell. Way to go Kids…Tournaments would do well to keep this protocol.
The hosting park staff did start coming into the dugouts between games and spraying what seemed like a misting of bleach and water from some sort of water gun… Only extra suggestion here would be to add some sort of fragrance or scent buster to help with the overwhelming smell of sweaty armpits and socks. Coaches and players were all safely in the dugouts like normal…again, under parental supervision and parents all seemed to have no problems with it. This was true of teams from 8U to HS.
While it was reccomended to bring chairs, and stay off bleachers (which many people do anyways) there was bleacher use. Parents set up chairs and dragged them to the fence and sat next to their favorite people… their team. One of our friends who runs tournaments told us today that they did try to stagger chairs and move them, but it was to no avail, and most people threw aside this ‘rule’ early on in the day. No social distancing during game switches because we all know the early bird gets the worm. (the worm being the best spot at the fence)
Team tent cities were dotted along every swatch of grass….
We didn’t see anyone lick each-other, or share blow-pops, but mostly everyone was so excited to be back at the field that blow-pops were virtually unnecessary. 🙂 Pretty sure there were a few kids biting off the same pickle, under parent supervision (or lack thereof)…. and hair laden with sweat was being braided by the most skilled braiding moms and players on each team.
Concession stands in our case, were open and so were bathrooms. People maintained a normal space while standing in lines, and nothing seemed awkward. Maybe the biggest change occured with regular spraying of the bathrooms with Lysol, and plenty of soap. ((Now that’s a WIN-Win) In fact, I think we all would agree that a little sanitizing of the bathrooms makes for a more enjoyable day, but it did make the lines a little longer.
Sunflower seeds, the germ filled illness causing spitting favorite of champions were outlawed, but there’s a good chance that they were still there, somewhere lurking and being spit like a wad of tobacco onto the dirt or into an empty bottle.
Brackets were online which eliminated the gathering of everyone trying to be the first one to know where their team placed. So with a simple app, we could keep up with scores, game times, changes, etc.
Last but not least, there were knuckles instead of high fives. Maybe a few helmet taps, a little less handshakes, but nothing noticeable. And regardless of what has happeend over the past few months – there were still HUGS. Those home runs hugs, those great play hugs, those winning hugs, that just seem to prove that people are truly meant to be together. There was also some church on the dirt – and maybe, just maybe a whole lot of behind the scenes healing going on for so many kids who have desperately missed their friends, their coaches, their team families and the GAME.