After trying to work out a way to host provincial minor baseball tournaments in the province this summer, Baseball NL announced the games have been cancelled for 2020 due to the fear of the spread of COVID-19.
In a release issued by the organization Friday, the group said they submitted a letter to Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald asking for provincial tournaments to be considered this summer.
"We had some consultations back and forth, we met with some MHAs and had some talks," Kristyn Coley, metro director of Baseball NL said. "And unfortunately last night we got the news that we won't be able to make the small adjustments we needed to have provincials this year."
"Dr. Fitzgerald has done an excellent job bringing the province through this crisis and we support and respect all of her decisions. At the end of the day, it is still really disappointing."
Coley said much of the concern that came back from public health officials revolved around fears regarding contact tracing if an outbreak were to occur. She also thinks overnight travel to other regions of the province played into the decision.
"Through some back and forth, we've been allowed to do regional competition in our public health regions already," she said.
"So we kind of thought if we abide by the sports guidelines and the travel guidelines that are already in place that we could combine the two, but they don't seem to be interested in doing that for us this year."
Coley said regional tournaments are being prepared in the eastern, central and western areas of the island, which she hopes can serve as an adequate ending to a unusual season. However, Coley said, some regions will fare better than others using that format, as central Newfoundland, for example, has just two associations to play.
"It hasn't stopped our kids from playing and practicing, so they're looking forward to another solution once we can figure it out," she said.
Women's game will take a big hit: Coley
Because of the decision to cancel minor provincial tournaments, Coley said the growing women's baseball community in the province will see a drastic decline in the quality of their season.
"Female baseball is a huge upcoming growth area for us, across the country even," she said. "Unfortunately where it's a growing sport, we do have centralized areas of players. So usually we have a St. John's team, or an Avalon team and then a central and western [team]. So unfortunately we won't be able to have very much regional competition for females."
Coley said Baseball NL has been pushing to get women's baseball included in the 2025 Canada Games, which could be hosted in St. John's. She said Baseball NL will also take a hit in its efforts to travel to the under-21 national tournament next year, as the provincial tournament meant to serve as a bridge for players to join the team cannot happen.
Baseball NL will try to include female players in co-ed tournaments or other "male-dominated" tournaments, said Coley, but it will most likely not serve as valuable experience for players, she said.
But even through the challenges, Coley said Baseball NL has found more room for collaboration in the sport.
"We've done some things that we didn't think were possible before, we've tried some new ideas, got a little creative," she said.
"We were kind of hoping that this was our final push to kind of finish 2020 and say we're ready for 2021, but back to the drawing board again, I guess."