Nick Carroll

Nick Carroll

As the COVID train continues to derail youth sports, including soccer, baseball, softball, and most recently American Legion, it appears that athletic organizations are accepting their roles as sacrificial lambs in the face of coronavirus fears. 

“It sucks,” said Post 91 manager Josh Crawford when learning the news earlier this week.

On Monday, Gov. Justice hurled another uppercut to the gut as he announced that ‘low contact’ youth sports may not start any sooner than June 8, and there is no timetable for contact sports. 

My question is: why?  

Why have youth sports become the agreed upon activity that allows COVID to run rampant?

Let’s look at the American Legion announcement from earlier this week. 

The 2020 Legion baseball season was eliminated for all states that were still holding out hope of playing a shortened regular season. The American Legion National Organization circulated a memo to all states saying they would no longer be affiliated with any type of play this season. If teams wanted to compete on their own, they would do so without the association of Legion baseball.

Why was this decision made? For fear of catching COVID?  Nope. For fear of liability. 

West Virginia coaches will still meet on a scheduled conference call this Saturday to discuss any potential playing options without the involvement of the national organization. 

“We are looking at some other options at this time, but as with everything, it all depends on what the governor allows us to do,” said Crawford.

Getting clearance from Gov. Justice will happen in some form or fashion this summer, but the major hurdle right now is for teams to provide their own insurance. According to the American Legion National Organization, they have stopped teams from using the K&K Insurance portal for the 2020 season. 

So once again, these decisions aren’t being made based off the risk factor associated with catching COVID, yet they are made with the idea of keeping a healthy bottom line for these insurance companies. 

That’s where I am scared for youth sports. Where does it end? 

The fear factor involving the contraction of COVID can be used repeatedly until a vaccine is created. Are you willing to put youth sports on hiatus until a vaccine is in circulation?  Not me. 

Athletics offers so much more than physical and mental gains. Sports provide an arena to compete and improve as a person. If sports don’t get started soon, there is a great risk some of these organizations may not survive. 

A perfect example is the fundraisers that go into making youth sports possible. Without money fundraised, then sports won’t exist. 

I don’t want to see a future without baseball, softball, basketball, football, wrestling, soccer, volleyball, tennis, golf, cheerleading, gymnastics, or swimming. 

I am very fearful this no-sports nightmare will continue, as conflicting rules and regulations allow certain group activities but not others. 

If you want to go shopping with your child in the grocery store, its okay for him to sit in the buggy and touch everything in sight, but if you want to take him for a walk in the park, that’s not allowed. It’s okay to herd together in groups on Sunday mornings but hitting baseballs alone in a batting cage is a strikeout. 

Right now there is a petition to allow WV high school baseball/softball games to be played in June and July. In less than 20 hours, more than 2,700 people have signed off on this waiver. So I’m not the only one who comes off as this sports crazed lunatic upset that athletics continue to get slashed. 

While stay-at-home orders remain in place across much of the United States, baseball returned to one community in Missouri this past weekend with 550 kids participating in a tournament outside of St. Louis. 

The games were played with a series of social-distancing rules in place at 2 different venues, requiring umpires to call balls and strikes from six feet behind the pitcher, and limiting the number of players in a dugout to three.

Rob Worstenholm, who owns GameTime Tournaments, told USA TODAY Sports on Monday that players, coaches and parents “did an outstanding job” following the guidelines and described it as “a fantastic weekend.”

“If they wouldn’t have, we could’ve looked really bad,” he said. “But it turned out to be just the opposite. It turned out fantastic. Everybody followed the rules. And it was a beautiful thing.”

Worstenholm said he hoped that the tournament will serve as “(proof) to everybody here in St. Louis that this can be done safely.”

If youth sports can exist in a well populated area like St. Louis, then certainly us Mountaineers can figure out how to bring back sports responsibly.

Don’t forget, West Virginia is the reigning COVID-19 champions for a reason, we know how to follow the guidelines. o

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