Williamsport, Pa. — The Department of Education announced it would be opening schools around the state up as soon as July. District 12 Little League officials followed suit, as numerous leagues throughout Lycoming County and Clinton County were told if league presidents and parents feel safe, they could open.
Little League District 12 administrator Scott Linebaugh stressed it would be up the presidents to open the leagues up under safe conditions for all.
The decision, which still falls on the presidents, parents, and coaches of those leagues to maintain safe playing environments and viewing areas for fans, will come as some relief as the state begins to move back toward normal. Every single president appeared ready to get teams on the field and start playing.
Each president in attendance was given a thick stack of papers provided by Little League. The papers outlined the guidelines for each league to follow to keep players, coaches, and parents safe. Much like the guidelines handed out by the state, it seemed they were just that. Linebaugh made it a point to say leagues had to make their own decision to open.
All leagues are required to practice at least two weeks before games came be played. The absolute earliest games could possibly start is between June 19-20. Teams will arrive at the fields at different times so it can be completely cleared out before another game can take place.
Interleague play was discussed, but it still required both leagues to be in the “green phase.” A league located in the “yellow phase” hoping to travel must get approval from county commissioners of the county in which they want to play before any such game can take play. This even goes for practice.
Concession stands became one of the biggest sticking points for most leagues.
It’s an important source of income for leagues and most presidents were fine with pre-packaged food and people wearing gloves to serve hotdogs or hamburgers from a grill. Money handlers and cooks would also be separated.
The space in most concession stands would be an issue, but the idea of cooking on an outside grill and setting up a tent to sell under was mentioned. It remained up in the air, but most leagues felt it would be alright.
In the guidelines handed out to every president in attendance leagues were encouraged to not open concession stands at all. In fact, the guidelines specifically say no food or concession sales should be allowed at facilities. Families will be encouraged to bring their own food and snacks for the games.
Since the papers handed out were simply guidelines, most presidents agreed they would sell some type of food and drink at their respective league’s games.
Mask went down a similar path as most presidents agreed players would not want to wear masks while trying to play. Some presidents mentioned parents who have stated their kids would not want to play in masks at all.
Dugouts would also be a thing of the past, at least for the summer, as the teams will be moved to bleachers for the games and fans would be moved to the outfield. Managers will be expected to uphold all social distancing guidelines on the bleachers.
Ultimately, teams were encouraged to use colored tape to make out safe areas on the bleachers.
The decision will fall on the presidents and from the sound of things, leagues could start practicing as early as Friday.