Some youth sports teams are back on the field -- and parents aren’t happy

ATLANTA — Even though major league baseball is on hold until at least July, some youth teams are already back on the field -- and parents are concerned.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray learned that some teams across the metro area are starting to play again.

Gray talked to one baseball mom named Misty, who didn’t want to share her last name. She said her 14-year-old son doesn’t face retribution, but she doesn’t feel like it’s safe yet for him to play ball.

"His life and his safety is priceless," Misty said. "He seems to understand and he has not complained one bit."

Misty said she got a letter about how her son’s travel baseball team, NEXTLVL, would begin playing again. The concerned mother told Gray it surprised her.

In a letter from the NEXTLVL Sports Institute, it told parents and players that they shouldn’t post any pictures or details, and wrote that it is important that the workouts appear to be loosely structured.

They also asked players not to wear their team apparel.


"You're essentially telling us to tell our kids not the tell the whole truth," Misty said.

Georgia Premier Girls Fastpitch Softball was planning on holding its first tournament since the pandemic began in Dalton this weekend, but they canceled it after Gov. Brian Kemp’s Tuesday news conference urging social distancing through at least May.

Gray talked to league organizers Garry Headrick and Jason Gusaeff about whether or not they are concerned about being able to put on a tournament safely.

"No, we actually had four different parks reserved for this weekend so the 150 teams would have been spread out," Headrick said.

The league's organizers said many teams are back on the field this week.

"Teams are beginning to get on the field and start practicing," Headrick said.

“All the guidance we’ve sent out to our teams is, ‘Look, we’re following all state local municipality rules,’” Gusaeff said. " If they allow you to practice, great. If they don’t, don’t get on the field."

The softball organizers said they are committed to following the governor’s orders and any practice will be limited in numbers and players to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Gray reached out multiple times to the owner of the NEXTLVL sports institute on Wednesday, but he did not any returned calls or texts about the letter sent to families. Many of those families paid more than $4,000 for the season.

NEXTLVL Sports Institute released this statement on Thursday:

* We stated these practices were to appear “loosely structured” to prepare our parents that these would not be the same large group, full participation drills and workouts that they were accustomed to seeing before the quarantine. Previous communication from us specified that only one parent was to attend these workouts and they were to remain socially distanced form the other parents and players in attendance to insure our full compliance with the guidelines set forth by the state.

* We stated that the players should not wear their uniforms to practice to try and prevent them from receiving any judgement or scrutiny from those who might incorrectly perceive these workouts as an organized game or athletic event. As stated, these proposed workouts are casual and their purpose is to help those who wish to participate in them get back in shape both physically and mentally.

* We also instructed our parents and players to avoid posting about these workouts on social media in order to avoid them being subjected to judgement and subsequent ridicule for their participation in them.