I run the youth program at Bowlero Roswell in Roswell, Georgia (suburban Atlanta). On Thursday I sent out an email blast saying that after much deliberation, I decided we would press forward and bowl.
No sooner had I hit SEND on that email and I started having second thoughts. Then, upon further discussion with parents, all our coaches, and ultimately, some medical professionals (including my own cardiologist, who is rated as the best in Atlanta), I reversed course. Today, I announced that we were suspending the league for the time being, and would re-assess on a week-to-week basis, but that it would open-ended as to whether -- or if -- we would resume play.
Youth leagues are a little different than adult leagues. *I* am the Board of Directors, so what I say goes. And in the final analysis, my #1 concern is the safety of our kids, their parents and grandparents (sometimes the grandparents are the ones who drive them to the bowl), and last but certainly not least, our coaches, all of whom are 60+ and very much in the high-risk category.
I feel perfectly comfortable that this was the right decision at this time. Where it gets more difficult is in knowing exactly what sign to be looking for that will send the clear signal that it's "safe to go back in the water," so to speak. And so far, not even the medical professionals can provide that answer.
But I can say this: Today at about 5:30 PM Eastern, the USBC released another statement about this stuff. In this statement, they recommend USBC state and local associations move to suspend or postpone any large gathering events between now and the end of April, and to be proactive in considering the well-being of their members.
This language certainly seemed to me to be aimed squarely at tournament directors who are about to be running their states' Pepsi (youth) Tournaments, which are all about to be held in the coming weeks. Ours here in Georgia is scheduled for the weekend of April 4-5, and it won't surprise me one bit if it's the next shoe to drop.
At the bottom of the USBC communique is a link where they provide an FAQ concerning issues relating to league and tournament suspensions and the steps necessary to conform to USBC rules. That said, the president today declared this a national emergency, and USBC considers it an emergency as well. So I think it's safe to assume that extreme situations may allow for some extreme measures.
It's easier with youth leagues, of course, since there's no prize money in play, just trophies. But our leagues do something unique in that we hold an end-of-season Tournament of Champions, which is a pins-over-average event where the top 5 finishers in the two divisions (Bigs and Littles) win scholarship money. Last season, the winner in the Bigs received a SMART scholarship in the amount of $900, so it's not entirely insignificant.
And regardless of how our league plays out, we will, at some point, gather together to old this season-ending tournament, whether it happens in May as scheduled, or whether we have to come back in June or July or August to finish up.
Below is the USBC communique that went out today:
USBC COVID-19 UPDATE
The United States Bowling Congress (USBC) has postponed or suspended scheduled national events through the end of April due to concerns about COVID-19. Additionally, until further notice, USBC is suspending staff travel unless travel is deemed mission critical to the organization.
USBC recommends USBC state and local associations also postpone or suspend mass gathering events, meetings and travel in the best interest of public health. While individual state and local requirements related to mass gatherings are evolving, USBC recommends associations be proactive in considering the wellbeing of their members.
USBC has developed a Frequently Asked Questions guide to assist our associations, leagues and tournaments with rules and procedures related to postponing or canceling events.
USBC staff is available to answer any specific questions or concerns.
Read more: http://usbcongress.http.internapcdn.net/usbcongress/bowl/usbc/COVID-19-USBCFAQ.pdf