COVID-19 shuts out summer youth sports in Elba
During the last four months, American across the nation discovered they have a lot of free time. Historically, Americans spend hours enjoying and participating in sporting events such as baseball.
After COVID-19 hit, stadiums around the world are empty, and seasons are being canceled. Small towns are not immune. For example, Elba was forced to cancel its youth baseball and softball programs.
The Elba Parks and Recreation director, Greg Hancey, in a statement to the Elba Clipper wrote: “Our desire was for the kids to experience a certain degree of normalcy. However, because of a number of key factors, we are cancelling our season.”
The decision to cancel came after long and thoughtful consideration. Originally, Parks and Recreation planned to be able to have the season start May 15, but ultimately the programs were called off.
Hancey, Elba Parks and Recreation director for the last four years, said he has lived and worked in the community “pretty much my whole life”. He currently owns the Ranch House Restaurant, which he has operated for 15 years.
He and the experts are convinced of the benefits of youth sports. The Aspen Institute, an organization that promotes the “power of sport to build healthy children and communities”, report about 4.1 million kids participated in baseball or softball. Other Aspen Institute studies found that youth sports provide educational and health benefits to communities.
Based on my own experience, I know sports help children develop skills useful later in life. I personally learned more about myself and developed social skills by participating in youth sports.
However, COVID-19 put youth sports on pause in Elba. Tee-ball coach Ralston Moore said his son had been looking forward to the upcoming tee ball season, and it was hard having to explain to him what was happening in the world.
Moore, an Alfa Insurance agent, was expecting to coach to his son’s tee ball team this season. He said something that he would be missing this summer are the “lasting memories” created during the season.
However, Moore said he took the opportunity to use this pandemic as a learning tool for his son. He said he explained to his son that challenges are thrown at everyone and life isn't completely fair. For now, Moore said he will get out and throw the ball around with his son at home, making different memories.
Hancey said there remain unknown factors going into the fall as he works to figure out what sports, particularly youth football, will look like. He said Elba Parks and Recreation is hoping to get children back on the fields.
For now, he recommends getting out and using public parks in Elba that are reopened under Center for Disease Control guidelines.
By Harrison Carter
Last Updated: July 14, 2020