Missouri opened up the youth diamonds this past weekend for a two-day, 40-team baseball tournament. The tournament was one of the few mass sports events held during the coronavirus pandemic.
I think it was too early to gather that many people in one area. Forty teams times an average of 10 players per team is 400 players. Plus there are coaches, parents, umpires and workers for the tournament.
Dan Peterson, a father of one of the players, was hesitant to allow his son, Jaxson, to play. Peterson knew that his son greatly missed playing.
"Everybody feels a little bit differently about the situation," said Peterson, who is one of the coaches for his son's team. "We decided collectively as a team to go ahead and participate."
But is it really worth the worry and the risk involved? Do the means justify the end results? I don't think so. I could not see myself risking the health of my child over satisfying her need to play a sport.
Missouri confirmed 74 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, which tells me that the virus is still lurking. There have been 512 people in Missouri die from the pandemic.
The governor of Missouri, Michael L. Parson, has started lifting stay-at-home restrictions and allowing some businesses to reopen. Schools, however, are to remain closed until the fall.
"There is so much that we don't know about transmission in our state," said Lynelle Phillips, vice president of the Missouri Public Health Association. "To hold a huge baseball tournament, even the most optimistic of us have to cringe at that."
I have to agree with Phillips. Until the path is clear, people should not try to go out treading on it. One of the greatest dangers is that of the unknown.
If anyone who attended the tournament tested positive, contact tracers would have to track down everyone that person came in contact with. The difficulty would increase if that person had traveled from a different county or state.
"It comes down to the poor contact tracer," Phillips said. "It's just an added complication."
I love baseball, and it is my favorite sport. Even so, I do not condone resuming play for the sake of playing when there are risks involved. The tournament organizer had rules in place during the games.
Some rules included a requirement that players and coaches are to maintain social distancing and allowed only three people in the dugout at a time. The umpire stood 6 feet behind the pitcher's mound instead of behind home plate, and high-fives and fist pumps were banned. Players were instead encouraged to tip their hats in celebration.
The balls were cleaned every half-inning and the dugouts in between every game. Spectators sat in the outfield instead of in the stands.
Despite these cautionary rules, there were still collisions on base paths, and the distancing rule was violated numerous times. The problem is that a gathering like this tends to lead to more gatherings like this.
Let's remain paused on the sports before things get out of hand. Let's be sure that the path is clear before we run down it.