WICHITA, Kan. As a former Major Leaguer, Shocker All-American, and Wichita Heights grad, Mike Pelfrey is plugged into the Wichita sports community.
That's likely why he is getting calls lately, from people concerned at the large gatherings of young athletes practicing their respective sports.
"Being a sports guy, I get calls about fields being full at night on their drive home," Pelfrey said. And his concern is the same, it's just not worth the risk to the kids.
"All across the country, summer leagues for college kids are getting cancelled," Pelfrey explained. "Youth sports are supposed to be about kids. It’s hard for me to accept the fact that this is about the kids, and we have them out in situations and certain circumstances that are unknown at this time."
College baseball was cancelled. We still don't have major or minor league baseball players practicing, let alone playing. Yet, on any given night on fields across town, you can find teams gathered and practicing.
"I’ve got three kids at home, and I want to be out more than anybody. I love sports more than anybody," Pelfrey said. "But common sense kicks in, and I question whether the risk is really worth it at this time."
Under Governor Laura Kelly's reopening plan, Phase 1 does not allow for organized youth sports. Phase 2, which can begin no sooner than May 18th, does allow it.
"I get wanting to be outside, but ultimately this is for the kids, what’s the harm in waiting two more weeks?" Pelfrey asked. "It’s not going to hurt their development. Especially if you can ensure their safety more in a couple weeks. See how this reopening reacts."
Earlier in the week, the subject of organized practices was brought up at a Sedgwick County media briefing. It's a seemingly grey area, because if people are properly spaced out, it isn't technically a violation. There's also the difficulty of enforcement.
The County says it has received calls about practices, and KWCH has had calls and messages too. Some claim groups of 20 people or more are together at various times in the evening.
But even if there is proper spacing, Pelfrey urges to just wait and let the medical professionals study the effects of Phase 1, before we send kids out.
"This isn’t going to change the end result of their talent and performance. This has a chance to impact a kid’s life," Pelfrey said. "Whether they end up losing a parent, or grandparent, or maybe a teammate or friend. Maybe a parent ends up losing a son. You never know."
And again, if we are able to move into Phase 2 on May 18th, the organized youth sports will be allowed, with a few exceptions.
"We’ve done a good job as a community, as a state as a whole," Pelfrey says. "Just bear with it a couple more weeks."