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Windsor-Essex Minor sports leagues postponed due to COVID-19, safety top priority
WINDSOR, ONT. -- With the province extending its emergency order banning gatherings of five or more until June 9, sports leagues are scrambling to save their seasons.
This time of year baseball diamonds would normally be buzzing with players, but with COVID-19 restrictions fields across the country sit empty.
“To not play sports right now is a hard thing to comprehend,” says Mackay Jeffrey, 13, who plays for the South Windsor Canadiens.
His league, like many, is idled.
He understands it’s not yet safe to play due to safety concerns brought on by the pandemic.
“I want to start throwing baseballs just to kind of get in the mood to play baseball again,” Mackay says.
His mom, Lori Jeffrey, says the family is usually at the diamond or rink five to six times a week this time of year.
The downtime, she says, is not a good time.
“The kids aren’t going to school, they’re not spending time together, they’re not getting any physical activity at all or hardly at all and it makes for some really rambunctious kids sometimes,” Lori says.
Riverside Minor Baseball Association president Chris Lewis says it can leave “a big hole” for some kids when sports are taken out of the equation.
He says the governing body has pushed back the start date of minor baseball to June 15 — but even that tentative date — is a big question mark.
“If you can’t play baseball, which is for the most part, one of the most social distancing sports, how do you play anything else?” Lewis says.
That’s the big question for Bronwen Wood — the president of the South Windsor Youth Soccer Club.
“Right now we are stuck in a holding pattern,” Wood says.
The league — which has 1,000 members ages four and up — is governed by soccer Ontario. That organization put a moratorium on in-person soccer activities through the end of June.
Not optimistic the 2020 season will happen, Wood is appealing to families to carry over their registration to next season to keep the league from folding.
“We’ll be here for you as soon as we can, and we’ll get back out onto the field as soon as we can do so,” Wood says.
While most minor sports leagues are eager to return, they all agree on one main principle — safety. “Hopefully we can figure it out sooner than later,” Lewis says. “Because I don’t think this is good mentally for anybody, or physically for that matter.”
Some of the biggest obstacles, aside from figuring out what “safe” means for every sport is getting insurance.
If leagues can’t do that, it will be next to impossible to resume play.