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Closed doors, open minds

By YHH Staff , 11/10/20, 7:30PM CST


Closing locker rooms gives hockey community a greater chance of completing 2020-2021 season.

The Austin Packers mask up before entering the Graham Arena Complex during the Big Pumpkin in Rochester.

Closing locker rooms the next step in solidifying complete season

On Tuesday, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz held a press conference outlining the state's response to rising COVID-19 numbers across Minnesota and neighboring states. 

Starting Friday, Nov. 13, all bars and restaurants must end dine-on service between 10 P.M. and 4 A.M., and capacity will be maxed out at 150 occupants and cannot exceed 50% of an establishment's overall capacity. 

Cases have steadily risen in Minnesota since the beginning of October, especially in the age range of 25-29. Governor Walz also added that small gatherings should be limited to 10 people or less. 

CBS 3 Duluth reported that the governor's office has zeroed in on multiple sources for the rising case numbers. 

"According to Walz's office, more than 70 percent of COVID-19 outbreaks in Minnesota from June to November has a direct link back to weddings, private social gatherings, and late nights at bars and restaurants," the CBS 3 Duluth report said. 

Thankfully, there has been no correlation between the rising number of cases and hockey, and there will be no added restrictions on the sport. 

However, one space could be better regulated, especially in the hockey community; the locker room.  

Obviously, the locker room is special. 

The smell. The camaraderie forged inside. The shelter after a loss. The party palace after a win. The space is to be treated with respect and reverence, and appreciated by those who inhabit it for however short a time. 

In 2020, perhaps the best way to uphold the locker room's tradition is to leave it locked. 

Locker rooms are Petri dishes of germs and bacteria, and a place where players cannot consistently be held accountable for mask-wearing or social distancing, two methods used to slow the spread of COVID-19. 

In order to give the players, parents, coaches, fans, and everyone in between the best chance at playing out the 2020-2021 season, Youth Hockey Hub believes that it is far better to be proactive than reactive. While running four tournaments without locker rooms in Minnesota, we've seen the best results are yielded when dressing rooms are unavailable, which allows for a more efficient entrance and exit process. 

The Minnesota Ice Arena Managers Association posted on its website today regarding Governor Walz's new regulations. 

"There has not been an update for youth sports so we should still continue to operate until MDH comes out with new guidelines related to sports and entertainment industry," the MIAMA website says. "To recap, there are no changes to the ice industry after today's announcement," the site continues. 

"Just because there was not an update on the arena industry, we still need to be diligent with our policies and procedures to keep everyone safe and healthy. Please wear a mask, follow state guidelines, and isolate when feeling ill."

We encourage MIAMA to take it one step further and eliminate locker-room use, which we believe will increase the chances of a completed season. Keeping the locker rooms off-limits will allow the adults in the building to ensure that players are wearing masks, spreading out, and leaving the facility in a timely manner.  

Show up fully-dressed. Wear the masks. Practice social distancing.

Do it out of respect for the game. 

Do it out of respect for the players who deserve a full season. 

Do it out of respect for the associations that rely on tournaments for added income. 

As our season tentatively moves along, let's give ourselves the ability to say we did everything in our power to keep it going.  

Fortis Academy advocates for closing locker rooms to avoid state closure.

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