MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Health Department says outdoor youth sports can start having games and scrimmages on June 24th and indoor sports can start having games on July 1.

The MDH released new guidelines Friday that have caught some coaches and parents by surprise, because they didn’t expect to be able to play so soon.

Ryan Sheahan coaches a 15-and-under baseball team in the Gopher State Summer League and has been holding informal practices a few times a week to keep the boys’ skills sharp.

“We just want to play games and see our friends again,” Sheahan’s son, Kane, said.

Included in the MDH guidelines are requirements that gathering and venue capacity rules still apply, and social distancing off the field is required.

Coaches and athletes out of the game also must wear masks.

“Everybody’s really looking forward to it,” Sheahan said. “It’s been a really tough spring for these boys.”

The Gopher State League is set to start July 6.

“We’ll follow the guidelines to a tee of what they want us to do,” Sheahan said. “From my understanding, we’ll still be able to play baseball. If you have to tag a runner, you can tag a runner. The catcher will be in his regular spot.”

Sarah Licari’s son plays flag football, which is a more difficult sport to distance in than baseball.

She’s leaning toward letting him play. She believes it’s about the same amount of contact with other people as sending him to daycare.

“I would definitely want to know if they were taking proper sanitary precautions,” Licari said. “One problem I see is it’s really hard to get kids to keep the masks on.”

That could be an issue the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association runs into also. It’s too late for their summer league to come back, but officials say they’ll help teams plan scrimmages with each other.

“A lot of the guidelines that they have are still having spectators be socially distanced, have players wear masks when they come off the field, no communal equipment or sharing of water bottles or anything,” said Stacy Dally, MYSA’s director of marketing and communications.

The state strongly discourages out-of-state travel for games. Leagues have to have policies in place for what to do if someone tests positive for the coronavirus.

For the full MDH guidelines, click here.

David Schuman

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