Dining out isn’t the only leisure activity the pandemic has brought to its knees.
It’s only recently that we are seeing the long-awaited, yet still restricted, return to action of recreational and scholastic sports.
In his Ossining sporting goods store, Laur-Lee Sports, Lee Katz said sales have been down around 90 percent — or, as he more bluntly put it, “absolutely horrible.”
“You hear all this stuff about [supporting] your local restaurants. What about all the other small businesses? What about all the other mom–and–pop stores,” Katz said. “We survive on customers that are walking through the door. But people aren’t walking through the door.”
Still, Katz is doing what he can to pick up business as sports make their steady comeback this fall.
PARKS + REC
It hasn’t exactly been fun and games either for parks and recreation departments in the Hudson Valley.
In Tarrytown, Parks and Recreation Supervisor Joe Arduino said that one of the main purposes of his job is to bring people together. But he hasn’t been able to do that in full effect during the coronavirus pandemic.
Arduino also said that each year his department creates a budget for a full schedule of events and programs that are expected to generate budgeted revenue targets.
With the pandemic upending everyday life since March, though, some 70 percent of Tarrytown’s parks and recreation activities and programs, including the fitness center, have been cancelled or delayed.
“You can’t make [revenue] when [a] place is closed,” Arduino said.
SPRING BALL IN FALL
One program that was delayed, Tarrytown’s adult softball program, had to be morphed to fit Covid-19 protocols. Arduino said that, under normal circumstances, in spring 2020, Tarrytown’s program would have had 26 teams playing. That never happened.
Instead, he has 11 softball squads starting in September that must follow Covid-19 regulations, such as wearing a face mask and adhering to social distancing.
Since playing defense in softball is widely distanced anyhow, he is allowing players to not wear masks in the field, as it could interfere with vision, and otherwise get in the way when diving for grounders or running to snag a fly ball.
While on the bench, Arduino hopes all players will wear masks and keep six feet apart.
“There is no rehearsal for this,” Arduino said. “All you can do is tell players on the bench not to sit near each other and that the fans have to stay separate to team players.”
Max Bernal captains the 2019 championship co-ed softball team, sponsored by Sleepy Hollow restaurant J.P. Doyle’s, that the rest of the league will be aiming to dethrone.
He said he’s asking his players to stick with the program as far as mask guidelines. “At least playing in the fall we won’t have to deal with the summer heat,” said Bernal, “so wearing a mask won’t be as uncomfortable.”
Going forward, Arduino hopes that more programs and events, including non-sports activities, like Tarrytown’s Halloween parade, will return to the schedule (though the 2020 parade has been canceled).
“We’re impacted every day,” Arduino said. “It’s not been easy… But we’re trying to do the best we can with the resources we have.”
Christopher Scarglato is a student journalist at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He resides in Hastings-on-Hudson.