The Belmond-Klemme school board voted unanimously May 21 to cancel the 2020 baseball and softball seasons. Earlier in the week, Governor Kim Reynolds had announced that summer sports would be allowed in Iowa, with a number of precautions.
Activities Director Scott Meyer said, “I don’t feel comfortable putting baseball and softball players on the field.” He added that the rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases in Wright County influenced his recommendation. “I am worried that we are jumping the gun,” he said. “I don’t think there are enough positives (in having summer sports) to offset the negatives.” He questioned whether the district would be open to litigation if the seasons were held and players, fans or coaches got sick.
There are a number of precautions that districts must take, including: no use of dugouts during practices (but teams can stay in dugouts during games); temperature checks for players and coaches before practices and games; players’ equipment must be placed six feet apart; no spitting of sunflower seeds; players must bring own beverages (no shared drinking fountains, water stations or coolers); limiting the use of bleachers and encouraging fans to bring chairs or stand; social distancing for fans; and no concessions stands are allowed.
Meyer said B-K may be the only district in the Top of Iowa Conference that does not participate in summer sports. But the recent uptick in positive coronavirus tests in Wright County may keep other teams from wanting to travel to Belmond or Eagle Grove for games.
“Are we to the point where we can say ‘yes’ to sports?” Board President Rick McDaniel asked.
“I do not see anything smart about putting people together,” Boardmember Gary Berkland said. “It’s a matter of safety, and safety comes first.” He added that the President of the United States “passed the buck” to governors and “the governor passed it on down to us.”
Boardmember Jim Swenson pointed out that most scientists and doctors recommend staying away from large groups. “I tend to believe scientists over politicians,” he said.
According to Supt. Dan Frazier, potential ball players were sent a survey regarding baseball and softball participation. There were 82 responses, with 41 students being undecided. Of those who expressed a preference, 22 students said they would play, and 19 said they would not play. The breakdown of those who wanted to play this summer included 10 high school girls, 3 high school boys, and assorted junior high youth.