Saskatoon slo-pitch association eyes summer for possible start

At least one slo-pitch league in Saskatoon is tentatively looking at starting play in the early summer, but the government of Saskatchewan's reopening strategy would need to align with those plans.

Phase 4 of provincial reopening plan would need to be in place before games start

Slo-pitch leagues in Saskatchewan are waiting for Phase 4 of the provincial reopening strategy to come into effect before they can return to the field. (Maggie MacPherson/CBC)

At least one slo-pitch league in Saskatoon is tentatively looking at starting play in the early summer

The season would normally be underway now, but it has yet to start due to COVID-19 restrictions. Slo-pitch would fall under Phase 4 of the provincial reopening strategy, which allows for outdoor recreational activities to resume.

Phase 4 doesn't yet have an official date of implementation. The province announced this week that Phase 3, which includes restaurants and bars, is slated for June 8.

George Dmyterko, president of the Saskatoon Amateur Slo-Pitch Association, said league play would normally have started earlier this month.

He said the association is tentatively looking at starting up in early July. 

"Phase four 4 matter, of course. Phase 4 is when it really comes into play," he said. 

"[Leagues across the province] are all waiting for Scott Moe to give the old, 'Yep, let's do it.'"

Dmyterko said that the masters division for men over 50 years old has decided to take the 2020 season off. 

He said a few women's teams were discussing not returning this year and there was talk from some teams who didn't want to return if they were forced to wear masks.

Dmyterko said he's not sure how much the game will be modified, but that said dugout configurations could be tweaked. 

Overall, he said he feels slo-pitch is a physical-distancing friendly game and he hoped to see people playing soon.

Dmyterko said the city was in contact with him earlier this spring to get a sense of team numbers for possible diamond rescheduling.

Andrew Roberts, Saskatoon's director of recreation and community development, said the city asked sporting groups to provide plans for a potential July or summer start, to use if the province opens these types of activities.

"This was for planning purposes only so we would have an idea of demand," Roberts said.

"We are not confirming any [start] dates."

Roberts said the start of any recreational sports league would depend on the provincial government's reopening plan and a start date to Phase 4. 

Slo-Pitch National offers support to regions

Slo-Pitch National said on its website that leagues could contact their regional directors for guidance in planning this year's season, should it happen, in accordance with provincial guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

"A list of suggested common sense actions necessary during this time has been assembled but there is no 'one size fits all' guideline plan," the statement said. 

The list is flexible and can be adapted to provincial or territorial guidelines as needed, but if provincial and municipal guidelines and restrictions can't be met, the organization would be forced to cancel its events for 2020.

Dmyterko is also the regional director for Slo-Pitch National Saskatchewan. He said his job in that role is to make everybody feel comfortable returning to the sport. 

"Not everybody is going to be comfortable, wanting to play any sport with a mask on if you don't have to," he said. 

"It's alright to wear a mask. If you feel comfortable wearing it, wear it. But the person that's not wearing one shouldn't be uncomfortable about them wearing it, or not wearing it." 


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