Even though Gov. Bill Lee has greenlighted such sports high school football this fall, non-school programs are still floating in limbo.
Lee’s Executive Order 55 released Friday engineers guidelines for how those types sports can plow ahead in the middle of a pandemic.
But that still leaves Parks and Rec on the bench. With the summer well underway, some programs already have been stalled.
But agency Director Joe Huff still has his sights set on youth football and basketball.
“We’ve got some ideas if we can’t play contact sports,” Huff said Wednesday. “We’re trying to get people involved to come out and help us where kids can come out once a week. Since they can’t play each other, we can do training skills and get them involved in the game.
“I think there are some alternative things we can offer the community if we’re not allowed to play contact,” he said.
Huff said even if programs have to start a little later, officials are willing to do so.
Parks and Rec has been preparing for the good and the bad. Huff said with a thumbs up, all the moving parts are in place to start up programs, even though they’ll come with a whole new set of safety guidelines and precautions.
People are willing to help, however. In the fall, soccer usually garners about 40 coaches, Huff said, adding that though they might not need that many on a reduced schedule, people are still willing to pitch in where needed.
“I think parents and kids are both eager to get out and do something,” Huff said. He wants to keep kids involved in sports they’re already invested in and even if that just means practice sessions, leadership wants to make it happen.
The football program doesn’t start until mid-August anyway, and right now Huff indicated teams are ready to go: They have equipment, thermometers and manpower.
“I think we can make it happen fairly quick, and if we have to move it back a week or two, we can,” Huff said, adding that although the tackle football league usually ends Oct. 1, teams may be willing to play through the end of the month.
“So there’s a lot of options out there,” he explained. “We’ll make the best of what we have available to us.”
Sports aren’t the only thing that hang in the balance for Parks and Rec. Should more seasons get canceled, more revenue streams will dry up. The organization already has had to consider budget shifts after a 2020 fiscal year that ended with massive revenue drops from canceled programs.
Though most Parks and Rec facilities remain shuttered, the outdoors have been a daily respite for the community, especially during months when COVID-19 closed most businesses, Huff said.