One of the most important members of any Rhode Island Youth Sports board of directors is the communications officer. I was blessed to be the communications officer for several years with my local North Kingstown/Wickford Little League. This position involves communicating a wide range of messages to the league’s players, coaches, parents, sponsors, and community at large. There could be an email about a game cancellation, a home run derby announcement, a schedule change, a tryout, or an upcoming board meeting. The communications officer could send a league wide text message. Social media pages are updated by the communications officer with photos, videos, and news for league members that subscribe to their pages. By engaging the families, fans, players, and sponsors through responsible social media pages, informative emails, and pertinent text messages, the communications officer helps enrich the entire sports experience for your league.
The 2020 Rhode Island Baseball season has pressed the communication officer or team to provide updates to its league and its community. Most leagues have used social media pages, such as Facebook, to announce updates, cancellations, and messages of hope. Most leagues have an email marketing system and have communicated their message to their members not on social media. I’m not sure if leagues are still using the United States Postal Service, but I would suspect that is yet another way to announce updates. The news is not always promising and the forecast for the 2020 Spring/Summer baseball season is not looking great. However, I respect the challenge that these communication officers face and feel like they are doing their very best during this difficult time. We all want to get back on the field and making the decision to cancel a season has got to be just gut-wrenching for league officials. Here are some examples of how some of our Rhode Island Baseball officials are communicating on social media:
- “This year is different. This year, the league is not exclusive in our challenge to take the field. It’s an adversary we all face, and even together, one that no protest or valid argument will win. Staying off of our fields, not gathering with our teams or large fan groups – doing the opposite of what we love – is what’s going to beat COVID-19. The (name removed) Executive Board has decided to suspend the formal season for its TBall, Instructional and Junior Divisions until next season. This does not limit us in our ability to hold practices, clinics, inter league or competitive play for these divisions should remaining weeks of the season become safe for play. The (name removed) Divisions can begin in the later summer months, so we are planning for them to move forward, with hopeful intentions. We are in this together. Everyone is making decisions that they don’t want to make, but are the right ones to make. Our love of the game has never outweighed the safety and well being of any player, coach, parent, volunteer or fan. We will be back at it, soon enough. Keep playing catch and back yard practicing! Send us those pics!“
- “(name removed) will concentrate on all of our in house Divisions (Majors, AAA, AA and Tee Ball) this season. Each Division will see more games and an extended playoff format. When will that happen? We just do not know when our local government will open fields but with no All Star restrictions, we have all the time in the world through August and even September to provide each child the full Little League experience. We will update you with announcements regarding important dates weekly. If you should have any questions, please reach out to us at your earliest convenience. (name removed) looks forward to the day when baseball is back in the twilight summer air! Thank you in advance for your understanding during this historical time.“
- “JUNIOR & SENIOR REGISTRATIONS RE-OPENED THROUGH MAY 8! Due to the recent announcement that the spring 2020 school sports season has been cancelled, we’ve re-opened registrations for our Junior & Senior divisions (ages 13-16). Hopefully this will give those players an opportunity to play baseball this year in late-spring & summer!“
- “2020 SEASON ANNOUNCEMENT: As you are aware, the Governor has implemented a process in which gatherings are limited but will be slightly expanded as we move into phases 2 and 3 of that process. There is hope and then there is reality. This will greatly restrict what (name removed) can do going forward. Today we regretfully announce that the Spring 2020 season is cancelled.At this time we are hoping we will be able to open registration for Fall Ball by late July or early August. If we are able to do so, it will be a quick registration period so that we can get the uniforms, schedule, and umpires lined up. There may also be an opportunity for (name removed) to do an informal “sand lot” series during the summer which, if we are permitted, we will announce when the time comes. We do not anticipate a fee for that series.”
- “As shared, (name removed) has suspended all League activities until May 11. It is likely we will have to extend the suspension of League activities for a few more weeks until the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations decrease in Rhode Island. Know that we maintain tremendous optimism that there will be a 2020 season, when safe to do so. While the season would be different from the traditional Little League season, such would not start until state and town officials deem it safe. The safety of players and volunteers is of paramount importance relative to any decision regarding the baseball season. Despite the delay, know that the Board has been working tirelessly in preparation for Little League Baseball in (name removed) this year. Managers have been appointed, teams drafted and managers will be ready to go once it is safe to do so. So, please continue to #KeepTheFaith and heed the stay at home order so that when it is safe to do so, we can get outside and play baseball. I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to a change of scenery, in particular, baseball fields throughout (name removed). Thanks again for your patience and know that we’ll provide another update in the coming weeks. In the meantime, click here for some frequently asked questions and answers.”
Clear and informative language mixed with emotion and messages of hope – these are the common themes I am reading in these types of messages. I know how hard it is to report on difficult news, cancellations, deal with upset kids and parents, and have to share bad news. I applaud all of our Rhode Island Baseball leagues from Little League and Cal Ripken Baseball to the Rhode Island Interscholastic League to our local Amateur League representatives like the Newport Gulls and Ocean State Waves who are making informed, tough decisions for their 2020 Spring/Summer baseball season. This season will most definitely get some sort of asterisk in the annals of Rhode Island Baseball history.