As the COVID-19 pandemic stretches on, many organizations have been looking at long-term strategies to protect their employees and investments in preparation for all phases of “re-opening”. Baseball teams are no different. While complying with government regulations to maintain health and safety within facilities is essential, it is also necessary to consider the overall complex process of re-integrating people. Specifically, special attention must be paid to the international players, who make up roughly 30% of Major League teams and about 25% of Minor League teams.
A forward-looking, player-centered approach will pay off. Teams that have continued to invest in the education portion of Player Development stand to see the most progress, both short-term and long-term, in their most important investment: the players. Teams that pull back from player development during this critical period prior to re-opening will likely struggle in rebuilding and reconnecting their relationships with international players on and off the field.
The goal of Higher Standards Academy is to support the ‘re-opening” of baseball through continued language services. Since March, we have been able to provide 100% online and virtual programming so that players can continue learning English at a distance and not lose progress made over the first months of the 2020 season. As a company, we have been introducing technology and online learning platforms for players over the years. Because of Higher Standards Academy’s prior integration of online learning with classroom instruction, we have found solutions to provide engaging player friendly distance learning options. We have the tools to support international players as they navigate a virtual learning environment.
Player education, like the game of baseball itself, requires developing fundamentals and a workout routine in order to make progress. Now that there is an official resume to play date for baseball, the routines of training for and playing the game will be markedly different than they were pre-COVID. Baseball and the process of player development will be a completely new game. The teams that have continued to invest in the education portion of player development will reap the benefits immediately. Players will have had an opportunity not only to continue developing their language skills, they will have had the opportunity to learn how to re-strategize and be better prepared for re-entry.