Around Columbia, the COVID-19 pandemic is having an effect on local sports leagues and facilities.
The Diamond Council of Columbia, a local youth baseball and fast-pitch softball league, has finished league registrations but had to suspend the start of its season. Teams originally were slated to start play in the first week of April.
Despite the delay, Executive Director Paul Blythe is still optimistic that the season will go on, even if it begins a little later.
“We have not canceled the season yet, as it’ll go later into the summer, so we’re hopeful this gets sorted out by then,” Blythe said.
Blythe also said that while a small number of parents have pulled their kids from the league due to concerns about COVID-19, the overall number of sign-ups has not significantly changed.
The league gives a full refund to parents who pull their children from the program.
Daniel Boone Little League posted on Twitter this past weekend that it has delayed the start of spring baseball to April 6 and canceled softball evaluations due to COVID-19 concerns.
Attempts to contact the league for more information were unsuccessful.
The Columbia Parks and Recreation department has also issued refunds for those who have registered for some summer activities such as swimming lessons.
As of Monday, the city has postponed signups until further notice for adult fall softball and adult volleyball. Fields under the department are also not allowed to be rented out for tournaments or games.
On March 18, the Parks and Recreation department closed the Activity & Recreation Center, Armory Sports & Recreation Center, Columbia Sports Fieldhouse, and Hillcrest Community Center and Moss Building until further notice, according to a post by the Parks and Recreation Department’s Facebook page.
Joey Wilmes, sports supervisor of Columbia Parks and Recreation, said that all spring activities, which includes kickball, softball, and many others, have been delayed to the summer.
Registration for spring and summer activities is down 50% compared to last year. Wilmes attributed that to the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
“We’ve received emails from people telling us they were a little nervous with everything going on,” Wilmes said. “Once this whole thing blows over, we anticipate the numbers should come back up to normal levels.”
With recreational activities being postponed until April 25, Wilmes said that it would take two weeks to get officials together and start the process of getting things going again.
A start date has been tentatively targeted for May 11.
In the meantime, the department will be taking appropriate health measures, especially with the city’s new stay-at-home ordinance that passed Tuesday.
“We’re keeping things sanitized and doing everything we can to make sure things are ready to go if the situation improves enough to allow us to start soon,” Wilmes said. “We are committed to protecting the health and safety of all our participants.”
As a result of Order 2020-23, the Parks and Recreation department announced on Tuesday they will also be closing playgrounds, sports courts and fields.