LINCOLN – Sporting events on the national stage are starting to slowly work back into a semi-normal routine and during the daily news conference with Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, Nebraska baseball and softball teams could see the diamond as early as June 1.
Current state-wide Directed Health Measures involving sports remain in place through May 31. Governor Ricketts stated Monday afternoon that baseball and softball will be receiving guidance for the month of June.
“So, starting June 1 we will allow team organized practices with lots of restrictions on social distancing to begin and games to begin June 18,” said Ricketts. “This will just be again for baseball and softball; no other sports.”
Again, team organized practices for baseball and softball may begin on June 1 and games may begin June 18 unless circumstances dictate a change in date.
Players should use their own gloves, helmets and bats as much as possible. For fans, attendance will be limited to household members of the players on the team as bleacher-use will not be allowed. Fans must bring their own chairs or stand and fans must keep six feet of social distancing between different household units. No fan seating or standing will be allowed in the area from behind home plate to six feet past the far end of each dugout.
“We really want to step into this slowly so that we can see how this works,” Ricketts added. “Some other questions may be ‘why are you picking baseball and softball?’ Well, those are sports that are generally more socially distanced anyway. We want to take this a step at a time to see how we can roll this out and make it work.”
Depending on how the protocols are followed by baseball and softball teams it will factor in how fall sports could be implemented. Nebraska Commissioner of Education, Dr. Matthew Blomstedt talked about this will allow them to look at fan behavior and more.
“The reality is using every little moment to see how coaches interact, how fans interact, how parents work with coaches and their players to make sure there’s some safety,” said Blomstedt. “I think in each of these cases it gives us kind of a model that it either works or maybe it has some challenges with it to be really thoughtful about.”
Governor Ricketts also reminds Nebraskans the current DHMs will go through at least May 31.
“If you’re a private coach that sells memberships or something like that and you want to coach people specifically, you can,” Ricketts mentioned. “Something people have taken that as ‘oh I can quick put together my team and do a practice.’ No, that’s not true. There are no team organized practices or games in the month of May.”
Team organized practices for other sports will remain suspended.
To hear the complete audio from Governor Ricketts, visit waynedailynews.com, select the ‘Community’ drop-down and click on ‘Podcasts’.
- Schools are permitted to open weight rooms for use by all student-athletes as long as they follow the same guidelines as fitness centers/clubs, gymnasiums, health clubs and health spas.
- Dugout use for baseball and softball will not be allowed; items should be lined up against the fence at least six feet apart.
- Parents must remain in their cars or drop off and pick up players afterwards.
- Coaches are responsible for ensuring social distancing is maintained between players as much as possible. This means additional spacing between players while playing catch, changing drills so that players remain spaced out and no congregating of players while waiting to bat.
- Use of dugouts is permitted during games only; bleachers located between the dugout and home plate should also be used to spread out players; players should have designated spots to place their personal items; coaches must designate an adult who is responsible for ensuring players are seated on the benches unless they are actively participating in the game.
- Teams to play next must be provided designated areas for player warm-ups that provide for necessary social distancing.
- Post game handshakes or interaction between teams are prohibited.
- When games end, the leaving team must sanitize the dugout area; no post-game talks at the field are permitted; fans and players must leave the playing area and return to their cars immediately after the game.
- The team to play next must remain in their designated warm up area until the prior team has finished sanitizing and is completely out of the dugout.
- Fans for upcoming games must remain in their cars during player warm-ups; they will be permitted to come to the field once the team they are there to watch enters the dugout area.
- Restrooms must be cleaned and sanitized regularly while players and fans are present; markings should be placed on the ground to ensure individuals waiting to use the restroom are spaced six feet apart.
- Players must bring their own water/beverage to consume during and after practices and games; no shared drinking fountains or coolers.
- Players must bring their own snacks to consume during and after practice/games; no shared/communal snacks.
- Coaches must sanitize shared equipment before and after each practice and game
- Concessions stands are not allowed to be open.
- Team organized practices and games for other sports may remain suspended.