Dear editor,

I’m speaking as a parent with three young teens (at least they have each other), who are bored out of their minds with hitting and kicking balls into the backyard net. It’s time we figure out how to get all our kids outside with friends again by playing organized ball.

If Walmart and Menards can operate safely (Have you seen their parking lots lately?), we can figure out how to get our kids back on the ball fields safely. Maybe I’m alone in this assessment, but my kids are slowly becoming vampires, staying up later at night. We need organized sports to get our youths back on schedule and outside where it’s safer. It’s only going to get worse once the school year ends.

With more local control in place now, businesses are slowly reaching out to the public with ways to open up safely. Sports could do the same by opening play to our local leagues and venues. Youth sports traditionally utilize parents and siblings as league officials and umpires, so keeping a familiar profile seems like a great way to get back to normal activities.

Not all types of play are feasible. For instance, we are probably not ready to host or travel outside of our area to play tournaments. But once school sports open back up, we’ll learn about a more regional approach.

Much of the early focus of this pandemic was figuring out who was most at risk. In the past months we have learned how this disease progresses and who to protect. It’s time now to focus on the physical and mental well-being of the least vulnerable, our kids!

Will there be risks? Of course. We take risks every time we put our kids in the car or let them bounce on the backyard trampoline. But we weigh those risks and live our lives without fear.

Most people understood that once schools went online, sports would be cancelled. At the time, it was probably the right call. But much has changed in the weeks since we all sheltered in place. For our youths and anyone without underlying health issues, getting outside and enjoying the benefits of the suns rays with teammates and friends, should be deemed essential.

Phil Harder, youth coach from Rib Mountain

Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.

Investigative journalist, music enthusiast, blogger, animal lover, kayaker, knitter, wife, mother.