The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted many of the fundamental things that we have taken for granted. One of the most noticeable over the summer was the absence or modification of Little League baseball.
Summers can typically be charted by the Little League schedule. The start coincides with the beginning of the summer, while a dog pile in Williamsport, PA. marks the season coming to a close.
Little League baseball is the time for kids to fall in love with the sport and start making friends that they will play with for the next 10 years.
Unfortunately, all of that was cut short last year when many regions had to shut down due to COVID-19. We weren’t able to cheer on the local teams or see them perform on a national stage.
Pike County Little League in Illinois was one example of many that had to cancel their season to comply with state mandates, shutting the league down for the first time in 65-plus years.
Others tried playing and had to cancel once a member of the league became infected with the virus.
Now, with rising cases across the country and the fear that a vaccine will not be distributed quick enough, there are worries about the freedom to play the sport in the spring.
The Importance of Little League
For many 11- and 12-year-olds around the country, Little League can be a transformative time. It can set the foundation for an addiction and love for the sport that lasts a lifetime. For most of these kids, it is also their first taste of actual, competitive baseball.
Even in a time when a pandemic has changed the way we approach sports, Little League is still important.
At some point, almost everyone watches the Little League World Series on TV and sees the atmosphere of Williamsport. It is a highlight of the beauty of summers as a kid, with the ultimate enjoyments of youthful excitement.
This inspires many to dream of making it to that point, with the beginning of every season feeling like there is a chance it will come true. It gives kids and their friends something to rally around, making the summer games an act of unity and closeness.
After all, everyone who ever played Little League remembers running around with friends after the game, eating a hot dog as you watch friends on other teams play.
In a time where the youth participation and interaction with the sport are increasing, it is an even more important time to continue welcoming kids into baseball.
Playing Baseball in a Pandemic
The biggest problem with everything amidst the pandemic is the unknown; we do not know what it will look like this coming April.
The baseball may end up looking a little different, but it will still be same-old America’s Pastime. Little League will, of course, have to follow with whatever mandates are out at the time. This may result in masks being worn, social distancing in the dugouts, or other types of preventative measures.
However, it will all be for the best if local kids are able to play baseball. With so many people waiting for some type of re-normalization, Little League would be the best way to reintroduce it.
This upcoming baseball season is important for a variety of reasons.
For a lot of places, it may be the first time they are able to do the things that they have been deprived of for a year. This could make baseball fields the prime source of getting together and enjoying the pure sounds of baseball that we have had to give up this last year.
The hope is that we will be able to see teams compete once again, with the end goal of Williamsport in mind. In a time where is feels like we’ve had to isolate ourselves from the world, having teams from each continent meet on a baseball field would be such a welcomed moment.
While it may not seem significant, it is something that we really need now more than ever.