It’s no secret that there’s no precedent for the current coronavirus pandemic and its effect on the sporting world. Over the last two months, the so-called “invisible enemy” has ravaged across the country, forcing the cancellation of every sporting event in its way.
However, as we near the month of June, the outlook has turned to positive in terms of a sporting restart. There are talks of an abbreviated start to the Major League Baseball season and many smaller sports have started without the presence of fans.
On a more local scale, the Big Rapids Men’s Softball Association is eyeing a June 1 start to its 2020 summer season. In starting June 1, the association will comply with the current “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order issued by Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, which is scheduled to run through May 28.
“We are currently working on scheduling to start leagues on Monday, June 1 for a full 16-game schedule,” BRMSA president Lee Yarrington said. “This requires that the Stay at Home order by the Governor expires, social distancing requirements can be met and any city requirements adhered to and we continue to communicate with BR City Rec for information for these requirements.”
Yarrington, who has spent the last 25 years as a player and officer in this league, noted that the current pandemic is the first instance of the start of a season being threatened. Should the season be delayed, the registration fees will drop accordingly. According to the BRMSA website, the registration fee will drop from the normal $500 to $375 if the start is delayed by two weeks, and the price will be cut in half to $250 if the start is delayed by four weeks.
In addition to that, Yarrington added that the BRMSA Board has not discussed the possible precautions that could come with starting under certain guidelines. He noted that these precautions will be discussed at a date closer to the start of the season.
“Our #1 priority is the safety of ALL, the players, umpires & spectators that would be around the games,” reads a statement from the BRMSA Board on the BRMSA website.
In terms of participation, Yarrington said that he anticipates the loss of a few COED teams as well as two men’s teams, but the addition of one new men’s team offsets that loss. He anticipates the numbers will be similar to those in years past.
When the pandemic began, Yarrington and his fellow board members took notice but believed that the beginning of his season would not be affected. However, as the precautions increased and the stay-at-home order was extended, the league began contacting teams to gauge interest in order to get a grasp on the amount of teams interested in playing during the summer season.
Yarrington is optimistic about the season, as are those in his league. He plans to co-operate with all of the guidelines set forth by the community and the Center for Disease Control and Preventition. He hopes that players will be able to play as normal, without masks, but is willing to observe those precautions if it allows the league to carry on.