The Nazareth Clippers, a youth sports organization located in Nazareth, has decided to cancel their fall sports programs due to COVID-19, citing the restrictions being requested as too much for the organization to handle as well as concerns for the safety of children and their families.
In a letter sent from the board, they discussed some of the restrictions as follows: “Some of the restrictions that were being requested by the Eastern Pennsylvania Football League were daily temperature checks at every practice and every game, which must be logged and then sent to the league every day that these practices and/or games occur. A COVID-19 waiver must be read to and signed by a parent at each practice and/or game and turned into the league. No parents would be allowed at practices. The league is requesting that only two spectators are allowed to come to the games per player. The league also raised the weight limits for the first two weeks due to children being inactive for such a long time-period. If one child on any of our organizational teams would test positive for COVID-19, all teams in our organization would be shut down for 14 days. The league was looking to shorten their seasons to make it a 5-6 game season. A 30-45 minute wait between games would be set to allow time to clear the fields and get ready for the next game. We would have to have a COVID-19 representative to field all questions and also a ‘COVID police’ person who would be responsible to make sure all rules are being followed at games along with commissioners and coaches. The league president already stated that the football league would not play if the mask mandate stays in place and from the looks of it, it doesn’t look like it will be lifted anytime soon. The field hockey league has yet to make a final determination and would not have done so until sometime in August. The league did say that they will not be able to have their tournament due to the overwhelming number of spectators, over 1000. The field hockey league again is following the mandatory mask update including all practices and all games. A few other restrictions: cheerleaders would not be able to do stunts, no sharing water bottles, limiting the sizes of the teams to accommodate the 250 max (when in green), would have to cancel the season if we went into yellow (max 25 people allowed in groups), we will need to provide hand sanitizer to all players and coaches (which is in limited supply), all uniforms (game and practices) would need to be washed after each use, and many others.” The organization’s decision to cancel all fall sports affects football, cheerleading, and field hockey.
In speaking with Missy Kalinoski, Nazareth Clippers President in regards to this matter, she explained, “Looking at the CDC guidelines for youth sports, the recommendations from the Eastern Pennsylvania Football League, and now the new mandatory mask guidelines, I honestly felt that it was in the best interest for the welfare of the children and the community. I couldn’t honestly foresee forcing these children to wear masks while running around in 90 degree weather, I just find it unsafe. Another reason, with dropping already to 5-6 games for the season, if one of our children tested positive then our whole organization sits for 14 days, which could potentially mean we could miss two games. We also would have had to cap our teams to limit the amount of people at the stadium and limiting our spectators. Again, my main focus was the safety of the children and the community.”
Although this decision was made unanimously by the board with the best interests of the children, families, and community in mind, some Nazareth families are concerned over what having no fall season means for their children. As many families throughout Nazareth agree, sports are more than just a game. They teach our children responsibility, teamwork, respect, determination, to set and reach goals, and they help to keep kids focused in a positive manner. Sports also provide physical activity that our children need including positive role models from the coaches who volunteer their time to create a beneficial atmosphere for the children throughout our communities.
“This time, more than ever, parents should take time to spend with their children and talk with them in an age appropriate context about what’s going on by listening to their feelings and comforting them. The isolation that we are all facing impacts both adults and children in different ways and it’s important that we all look out for each other in this difficult time,” Kalinoski says.
“I recommend that kids get out and be active at least 60 minutes a day. Go for a walk in your neighborhood, play some ball in your backyard, go for a hike at Jacobsburg State Park, or on the Appalachian Trail, just to name a few, all while maintaining social distancing of course,” adds Kalinoski.
When asked about the winter and spring sports programs, Kalinoski replied, “Unfortunately, I can’t predict what the future holds, but I will follow the CDC guidelines, the individual sports league recommendations, and government and Pennsylvania health recommendations.”
For more information or updates on the Nazareth Clippers sports programs, please visit www.nazarethclippers.org/uppernazarethclippers.