Parents of players weigh in as youth sports take over Valley amid COVID concerns

Posted at 8:09 PM, Nov 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 21:40:34-05

Despite recent guidance from some public health officials, youth sports quietly took over the Valley this weekend.

"We know this weekend alone there are more than 800 youth sports teams coming to Maricopa County alone," said Marcy Flanagan, Executive Director, Maricopa County Public Health at a Thursday press conference. "We are asking everyone to do what they can to help slow the spread."

A portion of the hundreds of teams included a USSSA Club Softball tournament that held games at Thunderbird Paseo Park in Glendale and Pioneer Park in Peoria. Parents of players said they are aware and concerned about the health risks, but were willing to let their daughters play in hopes of furthering their child's softball career.

"I feel safe for us. My daughter, who’s playing, is bringing germs from 18 other households into my house tonight," said parent Shelly Neal. "It’s hard to put them on hold actually, for the senior’s sake because they’re trying to get recruited."

"Most teams have their own sanitizing group. They try and keep socially distanced in the dugout," explained parent Mark Hilt. "There’s not a lot of contact, so this gives the kids a chance to really get out and play the sport that they love and dream about, and still continue on during these difficult times."

According to parents, social distancing is being practiced as much as possible in the dugout, and players were only allowed two family members each to attend the games. Fans are also required to wear masks and practice social distancing.

According to Gov. Doug Ducey's executive order, gatherings of 50 or more people are prohibited, unless approved by the host city. The Glendale Parks and Recreation Department confirmed to ABC15 that the use of the fields was in fact approved by the city.

ABC15 also reached out to the Arizona State Directors for USSSA Softball. One director declined to comment.

A lacrosse tournament, the Arizona Showdown Lacrosse Tournament, was also held at Copper Sky Recreation Complex & Pacana Park in Maricopa, Arizona, which resides in Pinal County.