COVINGTON, Ga. — COVID-19 has prompted the newly reformed Newton County Parks and Recreation to cancel all fall sports it offers this year.
The county department announced on Facebook Tuesday, July 28, it will not offer its fall baseball, softball, Miracle League fall baseball and basketball leagues this year due to the recent increase in COVID-19 cases.
“This was a tough decision and was made with our kids and the community’s safety in mind,” department officials wrote on its Facebook page.
COVID-19 numbers as of July 28 showed Newton County had 1,423 total confirmed cases with 28% of those — 405 — in the last two weeks, the Georgia Department of Public Health reported.
“Our first priority has been and continues to be the safety and well-being of the youth participants in our programs,” officials wrote on Facebook.
“The current COVID-19 pandemic has caused recreational authorities to take an objective look at how to safely and effectively implement a ‘Return to Play’ model for youth athletics.
“This has been difficult for universities and professional sports teams to navigate, especially with the increase in the rate of COVID-19 cases.
“Based on these factors, we have decided to cancel all fall sports, which includes Fall Baseball and Softball, Miracle League Fall Baseball, and Basketball.
“We are extremely grateful to our parents, who continue to support our youth programming initiatives by allowing your children to participate. We ask for your continued support moving forward as we ‘Return to Play’ in 2021.”
Many Facebook users responding to the decision to cancel all fall sports were not happy.
“Go to Walton (County). I am sure they will enjoy the extra revenue. Thank you to the surrounding counties who are letting our kids play sports,” said one parent.
Other parents agreed with the decision.
“Y’all mad because they’re thinking of the safety of our children, us, and them as well? That’s weird but, hey, to each its own.”
The move follows the final action of the former Newton County Recreation Commission July 7 to cancel fall football and cheer sports.
The Georgia General Assembly approved local legislation earlier this year to abolish the commission.
Newton County Recreation Executive Director Ternard Turner told the commission July 7 he believed the agency should cancel fall football because of “the physicality of the sport.”
However, he also said on July 7 the department was still considering how to offer baseball and softball by shortening the schedules and limiting the number of players allowed in the dugout and inside the park.
Newton County Parks and Recreation is now a department of the county government.