NOTE: This post was updated on July 29th, 2020 to include 3 additional leagues that restarted since the original publish date of June 30th.
As of July 29th, 8 of Silbo’s league customers, in 3 different states, have restarted games after COVID-19 closed most of the country. Many sports leagues haven’t started playing again. Some have canceled their seasons entirely. Still others are determining if they should start at all and, if so, when.
We’re sharing what we’ve learned from these restarts, postponements, and cancelations to serve as a resource to other game providers faced with the challenging decision of when, or if, to restart their games.
Of the leagues yet to return, some are waiting on governors’ orders and later phases of reopening. Many expect fewer players and teams when they do return.
Of Silbo’s customers that have resumed play, 6 are in North Carolina, 2 are in Florida, and 1 is in Colorado. These game providers range in size from small local leagues to large tournaments sanctioned by national governing bodies. There are also a variety of sports returning at the youth and adult levels including baseball, basketball, and softball. The first league to return started on June 6th and the most recent held a tournament on July 19th. More expect to return in August.
Details about each league that returned are below including their location, start date, factors that influenced their return, and precautions they are taking. They are listed in chronological order from the date they started playing.
West Raleigh Baseball
Location: Raleigh, NC
Start Date: June 6th
West Raleigh Baseball started their season on June 6th.
On June 19th, West Raleigh Baseball announced it would follow City of Raleigh’s procolmation requiring facemasks. They would not make face coverings mandatory for players, spectators, or coaches, and highly encouraged umpires to wear face coverings.
On June 26th, WRBA sent another update about how they would operate under North Carolina’s Phase 2 extension. In this update they required all spectators and umpires to wear masks, but not coaches or players.
AAU Basketball Tournaments at The Big House
Location: Tavares, FL
Start Date: June 12th
On May 1st, AAU began lifting the suspension of their events that had been in place since March 12th. In order to resume AAU event programming in a particular area of the country, the following criteria had to be met:
- Federal Guidelines – Adhere to any federal guidelines for re-opening.
- CDC Recommendations – Follow CDC recommendations when hosting events.
- State, County and Local Municipality Regulations – Abide by state, county and local municipality requirements.
- Facility/Venue Protocols – Follow all protocols for the venue by consulting with facility management team.
- AAU District and National Sport Committee Requirements – Follow the event license agreement. For events already licensed with AAU, the event operator will need to notify the AAU of plans to host, cancel or postpone the event. The AAU national office will notify district and national sport committees respectively.
On the weekend of June 12th, AAU Basketball played a 3 day tournament on 9 courts at The Big House in Tavares, Florida (20 miles north of Orlando). They had tested a smaller event the weekend before on June 6th. In an effort to make the events as safe as possible, they implemented precautions including temperature checks to enter the building, mandatory masks inside the building, facial recognition for ticketing to allow touchless entry, and increased sanitation. You can read the full list of their COVID-19 safety precautions here. Additional events are scheduled to take place throughout the summer.
New Smyrna Beach Adult Softball
Location: New Smyrna Beach, FL
Start Date: June 16th
The City of New Smyrna Beach, FL resumed their adult softball league on June 16th.
North Jefferson Junior Baseball Association (NJJBA) USSSA Tournaments
Location: Arvada, CO
Start Date: June 20th
On May 1st, USSSA shared POST COVID-19 Return-to-Play Guidelines, Procedures and Recommendations.
USSSA Colorado kicked off with a 2 day tournament on June 20-21. North Jefferson Junior Baseball shared recommended and mandatory guidelines for playing safely. Mandatory requirements included adhering to six-foot social distancing except when the ball is in play, daily symptom assessments by players and coaches, no shared water coolers or drinking stations, and the no touch rule – no high fives, handshakes, or other physical contact. Recommended best practices include face coverings for spectators and umpires, face coverings for coaches and players during practices, avoiding sharing equipment when possible and sanitizing if sharing is necessary, and maintaining social distancing in the dugout. You can see the full list guidelines here.
Garner Baseball, Inc.
Location: Garner, NC
Start Date: June 29th
Garner Baseball, Inc. had intended to return on June 22nd, but ended up pushing out their start date to June 29th due to rain. They are requiring all players and coaches to sign a Return to Play Waiver which covers the typical risks associated with baseball as well as the risk of being in contact with individuals who have COVID-19.
Walkertown Little League
Location: Walkertown, NC
Start Date: July 7th
Walkertown Little League drastically reduced the number of teams in each division before restarting. They are also requiring all participants and spectators to abide by the following rules. The rules were agreed upon by both the Town of Walkertown and the Walkertown Little League Board of Directors.
Walkertown Little League 2020 Practice & Game Guidelines
- Every player and coach MUST sign a waiver before entering the field.
- Only 3 fields will be used at a time during practices and games for social distancing.
- Limit of 25 individuals (athletes and coaches) per field as well as 25 spectators or other attendees per field.
- All spectators or other attendees need to practice social distancing by sitting/standing 6 feet apart.
- NO ONE allowed in dugouts during practices. All players and equipment will be 6 feet apart along the infield fence.
- Once games start there will be a taped off area for players and equipment and ONLY the on-deck batter will be allowed in dugout.
- All players will need to bring their own water to practices and games.
- There is to be NO sharing of equipment. ONLY exception is catchers gear but only after it has been sprayed and sanitized.
- If having a team meeting all individuals need to remain 6 feet apart.
- Anyone closer than 6 feet will have to wear a mask.
- Mask and hand sanitizer will be at every field.
- There will be NO CONCESSIONS.
Bull City Little League
Location: Durham, NC
Start Date: July 15th
On June 25th, Bull City Little League posted an update on their website with plans to hold one 2020 season with a staggered start happening in 2 phases.
Phase 1: Majors baseball/softball will begin with practices starting the week of June 29. Games will start somewhere around the week of July 13 with the goal of finishing around August. This will be a full 12-game season. Protocols will be in place to ensure the events align with state and local regulations for sizes, hygiene and social distancing.
Phase 2: All other divisions apart from Majors will begin once state/local officials and Little League guidelines loosen to allow for larger outdoor gatherings. The goal here is mid-to-late August. A credit from spring 2020 registration will be given for future seasons. Should a player choose not to participate in the fall 2020 season, the credit may be used for spring 2021. Players will have to re-register for the fall 2020 season. The league will determine the best process for applying the credit from the spring – a code may be used during registration, or the money may be applied retroactively. At this point, BCLL anticipates that the full fall 2020 registration will be covered if the player chooses to wear their uniforms from the spring season.
With the start of Phase 1, Bull City Little league shared guidelines with information about waivers, self screening, masks, social distancing, and equipment. They specified that most guidelines were derived from best practices established by Little League International and Guidance for Youth Sports by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to the start of practice, all players and parents were asked to sign a waiver. Everyone was asked to self screen and not attend any events if they had symptoms of COVID-19 or had been exposed to anyone known to have it. Coaches and spectators were asked to wear masks and players were given the option to wear masks. Handshakes, hugs, and high fives were banned and as well as the sharing of food and drinks. Maintaining 6 feet of social distance whenever possible was highly encouraged. Each game would use only one umpire and umpires were required to wear a mask or position themselves at least 6 feet from any player to call the game.
The league also stressed rules specific to spectators including:
- Spectators are limited to two per player
- Bleachers will be closed to parents/family
- Players will use both the bleachers and individual chairs as dugouts
- Spectators should maintain social distancing and spread out towards the outfield while watching games
Crystal Coast Wood Bat World Series
Location: Morehead City, NC
Start Date: July 19th
The 2020 Crystal Coast Wood Bat World Series hosted by Top Notch Tournaments took place on July 19th-21st. Their guidelines were similar to other leagues and included information for spectators, parents, players and coaches. The use of personal protective equipment was encouraged, but not required. Social distancing was required and celebratory contact was banned. Spectators were limited to 25 per team with specific instructions about where spectators could be.