The Osceola Braves Baseball Club is still waiting to find out whether or not they’ll have a season.
The 2020 schedule has been put on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and the club’s board is not sure when a resolution will present itself. The board met May 28 to discussion possible solutions, but determined more time was needed to make a decision. Board member Kate Cloutier said all the teams in the area are struggling with that decision.
“Everybody is sitting in the same spot,” said board member Kate Cloutier. “Wondering if it’s taking too much of a chance to play.”
The players are generally young and thus less susceptible to coronavirus, but the board needs to consider the health of those in attendance as well. The Braves attendance is around 200 people per game, sometimes closer to 400. This is much higher than other teams in the area, which does make Osceola’s situation slightly unique.
“Most of the teams don’t gather the crowds that we do,” Cloutier said. “So we’re kind of in a different situation than a lot of them are.”
Some professional sporting leagues across the world are continuing their seasons without allowing fans to attend games, but the only source of revenue for recreational teams are in-person ticket and concession stand sales, which makes a fan-less season impossible for a team like the Braves.
“We’re a volunteer group with no funding,” Cloutier said. “So the money we make off the concession stand is how we pay our bills.”
The board discussed the idea of playing the season entirely on the road in towns like Spooner and Haugen that are generally less populated and draw smaller crowds than Osceola.
“Between not getting a big fan base and just having smaller communities, I don’t think they have as big a concern as we do,” Cloutier said.
However, many of those towns utilize high school ball diamonds, all of which are closed until at least June 30. The Braves will continue to delay their season until at least that time, hoping more clarity will emerge by the end of June.
“It’s all a definite maybe right now,” Cloutier said.
Like so many other facets of American life, the pandemic has left those in charge unsure how to proceed. The board wants to make a decision, but with the constant stream of sometimes conflicting information changing daily, definitive answers are hard to find. Cloutier has been in contact with the Wisconsin Baseball Association and the Polk County Department of Health, and has also checked resources from the Centers for Disease Control. Most sources give rough guidelines or recommendations for public gatherings, but no one is strictly outlawing or allowing sporting seasons.
“Nobody is making the hard and fast rule,” she said. “As with most of this, they’re kind of leaving it up to you to make a wise decision. It would be helpful if someone would just say, “yes you can or no you can’t”’ but that doesn’t seem to be what anybody’s saying.”