Sports field managers and their staff are looking ahead to the fall season with hope and a little bit of grit as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect sports schedules. While we don’t yet know how or when many fall sports will roll out, sports turf professionals plan to focus on safety, fall maintenance and large-scale projects in the coming months.
Plan to Put Safety First
The highly contagious nature of COVID-19 means safety is a top priority. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),
wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent handwashing are safety measures that can help reduce the spread of the disease. Besides following state and local guidelines, there may be additional requirements established by campus officials at your school or university.
Apply these tactics to help slow the spread of COVID-19:
- Wear masks or face gaiters
- Clean and disinfect shared equipment like power tools between each use
- Don’t share water bottles, towels, masks or any items that come into contact with sweat or saliva
- Maintain social distancing by limiting the number of people on a utility cart at one time
- Consider holding team meetings outdoors instead of indoors
Plan for a Typical Fall Maintenance Schedule
During a recent town hall hosted by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), multiple speakers stressed that even though fall sports schedules have been on again then off again, it’s best to be prepared. By operating as if athletic events will be held as normal, sports fields will be ready for play.
Along the same lines, parks and recreation superintendents interviewed by STMA report they are also making the transition to regular use of sports fields even as they wait for guidance for the fall season.
However, it may work to your advantage to be versatile and play certain tasks by ear. For example, aeration and adjustments to the height of cut may benefit from a delay. If the worst should happen and fall sports are canceled, sports field managers could take a more aggressive approach with specific tasks in order to set up their fields for winter prep and for a healthy rebound in the spring.
Plan to Take Advantage of Lack of Play
As they discussed in the STMA town hall, the lack of play during COVID-19 has made it possible for sports field professionals to tackle large projects. A few tasks mentioned in the town hall that are easier to complete with low or no foot traffic include:
- Fraze mowing
- Making large-scale upgrades to irrigation systems
- Having a more vigorous overseed season
- Wide application of surfactants
- Transitioning turf from one type of grass to another
The STMA also mentions that there is a way to capitalize on the down time by taking on those long overdue projects. These quieter times provide sports turf managers with the opportunity to complete projects that may have been floundering at the bottom of their to-do lists. It’s also a great time to experiment, for example with new field lines, paint or various field painting designs.
What tips do you have for sports turf professionals as we head into fall? Let us know in the comments below, and visit your local Ewing branch today for more information.