“RETURN TO PLAY” GUIDELINES, BEST PRACTICES AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Published May 28, 2020 and Subject to Change
The health and safety of all event participants and their families will always be of highest importance to Game Day USA as we plan to begin hosting baseball and softball events again in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States and worldwide.
We have established a set of “Return to Play” guidelines, best practices and recommendations based upon several weeks of collaborating with other industry leaders, circulating surveys and studying results, and reviewing and analyzing pertinent information from public health authorities.
Despite our best efforts and intentions, it is impossible for us or any sporting event organizer to guarantee that event participants and/or attendees will not become infected with COVID-19 before, during or after an event, since sporting events bring groups of people from various locations together and often involve person-to-person contact.
All event administrators, staff members, officials, participants and spectators should follow state and local guidelines for gatherings and events. Our guidelines, best practices and recommendations provide specifics for diamond sports. They are not intended to replace or supersede state or local orders.
Given all the moving parts associated with making a successful sporting event happen, we expect cooperation from all involved.
GUIDELINES FOR EVENT MANAGEMENT AND EVENT STAFF
- Paper coaches folders, information packets and rule sheets will be eliminated. Pertinent details will be emailed to team contacts in advance of the event, and game rules will always be available online.
Event management will issue protective masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to event staff as needed to comply with state and local guidelines.
- Post-game and/or championship award ceremonies may be contactless, with the Head Coach or adult designee receiving all awards (ideally in a box or container) for his or her entire team.
- All event staff persons should practice good hygiene, and any person that develops a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 should remove himself or herself from the event.
- In the instance that an issue surfaces that is not covered in this document, event management reserves the right to make a final decision based upon common sense. Decisions of the event director shall be final, and the event director reserves the right to remove any person from the event that refuses to cooperate.
BEST PRACTICES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VENUES AND VENUE PERSONNEL
- Venues will be asked to service and sanitize restrooms at regular intervals according to local public health regulations, and make hand sanitizer available for patrons in all restroom areas and common areas if possible. Venues should also consider making markings on the ground near restrooms to facilitate social distancing while patrons are in line for the restrooms.
- Venues will be permitted, at their option, to close playgrounds, picnic areas, splash pads, skate parks and/or any other amenities that are not absolutely necessary for the event.
- Venues will be permitted, at their option, to keep food and beverage concession areas closed. If venues wish to provide food/beverage services, we ask that they observe local public health guidelines and we ask that markings be made on the ground near concession stands to facilitate social distancing while patrons are in line.
- Venue personnel will be asked to follow state and local guidelines related to personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, etc.
- Venue personnel will be asked to assist with sanitizing bleachers and dugout areas at the beginning of each game day, and again mid-day and end-of-day if possible.
- All venue staff persons should practice good hygiene, and any person that develops a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 should remove himself or herself from the event.
BEST PRACTICES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR UMPIRE ASSIGNORS AND GAME OFFICIALS
Umpires should facilitate the “plate meeting” for coin flip and ground rules while maintaining social distancing (6 feet). Only the official and the Head Coach from each team (3 adult persons total) should participate in the plate meeting. No team captains or players.
All officials should practice good hygiene, and any official that develops a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 should remove himself or herself from the event, and give way to a “backup” official.
All on-location Umpires in Charge will be asked to follow state and local guidelines related to personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, gloves, etc.
If possible, game officials should keep new game balls in their original plastic packaging until the time comes to put those game balls into play.
BEST PRACTICES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COACHES AND ADULT TEAM PERSONNEL
- Coaching staff should stage their team in a safe and open area prior to each game, maintaining social distancing. Warm-ups and post game talks should also be staged in a location and manner so that players maintain social distancing (to the extent possible) and are isolated from the opposing team and all fans.
- Each Head Coach or his adult designee should consider sanitizing the team personnel areas, including surface areas such as benches, bat racks, etc. prior to allowing the team to enter the player personnel area.
- Teams should promptly remove their own garbage from the team personnel areas prior to yielding their areas to the next team for the next game.
- Coaching staff should make a good faith effort to keep all bench personnel appropriately distanced (6 feet) during the game, making use of the dugout area (approximately 3-4 players in the dugout), the bleachers, and any other open area adjacent to the dugout.
- Coaching staff should promptly and carefully report final scores to event personnel immediately after each game to eliminate the need for shuffling paper scorecards. Each team contact person should keep their phone on for the duration of the event to accept phone calls from event management regarding scores or score discrepancies.
- All coaches should practice good hygiene, and any coach that develops a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 should remove himself or herself from the event.
- All coaches must execute an “assumption of risk” waiver prior to participation that is a condition of participation in the event. Even with best effort by all involved, it is impossible to completely eliminate all person-to-person contact.
BEST PRACTICES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PLAYERS
- Players are asked to eliminate high fives, handshakes, group home run celebrations, throwing the ball around the infield after an out, and sharing of equipment of any type (bats, helmets, catcher’s gear, etc.).
- Players should bring their own personalized water bottle or sports drink with their name on it, and should never share cups, bottles, snacks or any other items.
- Players are asked to refrain from spitting, finger licking, using seeds, or chewing gum.
- Players should have a personal bottle of hand sanitizer, should sanitize their hands between every half inning, and should avoid voluntary and unnecessary contact with other players, coaches or officials.
- Players are allowed to wear personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, etc.) if they so choose, so long as the equipment doesn’t compromise the safety of all players and/or the integrity of the game. For example, a pitcher would not be permitted to pitch with a white rubber glove on his pitching hand because that would be distracting to the batter.
- The traditional post-game handshake line with the opposing team should be replaced by a different no-contact gesture of sportsmanship. For example, players may choose to tip their caps from across the diamond.
- All players should practice good hygiene, and any player that develops a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to remove himself or herself from the event. Any player removed from a game due to illness will not be able to return to play in that game.
BEST PRACTICES AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PARENTS AND ALL SPECTATORS
Parents and fans should bring their own chairs and practice social distancing along the foul lines and/or along the outfield fence. Bleachers and dugout areas should be for team personnel only.
All parents/legal guardians must execute an “assumption of risk” waiver on behalf of themselves and their child prior to participation. This is a condition of participation in the event. Even with best effort by all involved, it is impossible to completely eliminate all person-to-person contact.
If utilizing approved 10×10 popup tents for shade, spectators should restrict tents to family members only, and tents should not become gathering places for group lunches, etc.
All spectators should depart from the ballpark promptly when their team is done with its game(s). To minimize unnecessary crowds, spectators should refrain from “hanging around” the ballpark to watch or scout other teams.
All spectators should practice good hygiene, and any spectator that develops a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19 will be asked to remove himself or herself from the event.
The bottom line is that no singular person or entity can bear sole responsibility for creating a safe environment for competition. EVERYONE has a part to play in creating a safe environment at the ballpark, so your cooperation is critical and appreciated. Thank you in advance!
-The Game Day USA Team