Youth sports leagues adjust games and practices as wildfire smoke lingers | local community


Following two straight weeks of training and match cancellations due to heavy wildfire smoke in the air, and with this week’s rain forecast not guaranteeing relief, the League of Indoor baseball has changed its air quality policies.

Previously, any air quality reading in the red zone of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index – representing a measurement of 151 to 200 – caused mandatory cancellation. of all activities. The red zone is defined as “unhealthy”, with the AQI chart indicating that “some members of the general public may experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more severe health effects.

“Actually, we can’t change the policy mid-season, but we can change the policy,” Interior Baseball League president Jane Bedford said. “There were a lot of parents and a lot of coaches at the meeting and they want to play baseball.”

IBL’s new practice allows for “100% optional” activity – based on the discretion of a parent or guardian – if the AQI is between 151 and 200.

“It made a lot of people happy,” Bedford said.

However, an AQI above 200 (in the purple or brown areas) will result in the cancellation of all baseball activities, with no exceptions for optional or voluntary activities. The decision to continue or cancel all nighttime activities will continue to be made at 4 p.m. each day.

Ironically, on the first day of the new, more flexible policy, Fairbanks’ AQI came in at 143 – in the orange zone – for the first time in two weeks. “IBL activities will proceed as planned on Monday, July 11,” the organization’s social media proclaimed in block letters. “Thanks!”

On Sunday, IBL officials also extended the season to help offset cancellations due to wet fields at the start of summer and smoky conditions over the past two weeks. The Mustang, Bronco and Pony tournaments will take place July 25-29, but additional matches and practices will continue through August 12.

The Fairbanks Youth Soccer Association, which also runs lacrosse and ultimate frisbee programs, continues to monitor the AQI daily on its site. While 151 is still the level they try to avoid, reading on the spot gives them the flexibility to make the final decision based on actual conditions on the South Davis fields.

The Interior Girls’ Softball Association is still operating under the 150 AQI as its activity limit, but with Monday’s improvement, practices and games were able to resume.

Even adults participating in the Golden Heart Softball Association have been affected by the smoke. GHSA policy is to cancel activities if the AQI reaches 300 or more – the brown level that coordinates with the EPA’s warning of “emergency conditions: everyone is more likely to be affected”. It happened in Fairbanks once this summer.


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