January 15, 2020

 

Governor Jay Inslee
Olympia, Washington

 

RE: Open Letter regarding current Roadmap to Recovery

 

Governor Inslee,

After nine (9) months of closure we feel that we are suffering through death by a thousand cuts.  

We have listened to your instructions since early March 2020.  We have sat back and watched while the rules, guidance, and “goal posts” continue to move and change – all in the name of “following the science” (your favorite phrase). We started with a “short shutdown” while we “flattened the curve” – do you recall that message?  This advanced to, “we are shutting down again to avoid a spike in November and December.”  Despite shutting down small businesses again, the Covid-19 numbers spiked anyway.  Did you put another “nail in the coffin” of our small businesses simply because of your gut feeling? There was no science provided to back up the decision.  

Now, we have these new Regions, with four (4) complex ratios, that shut everyone down further.  They may not even correlate to what is happening in our industry or within our city.  The most ridiculous thing we have seen yet – the State as a whole is one (1) percentage point away from advancing into Phase 2, but every individual Region is far from it.  Yet, we blindly follow directives from a person who says he is “following the science” but, clearly only when it suits you.

  

Since you have continued to preach about “following the science”, truly follow the science and take a look at the information that has been gathered on the subject: http://OlyPenSports.com/FollowTheScience.  We Are Following the Science.  This in-depth information includes statistics, assessments, guidance, and recommendations from groups such as the Centers for Disease Control, Johns Hopkins University, MIT, the Mayo Clinic, the World Health Organization, the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Washington State Department of Health, to name a few.  We point to this information to demonstrate that we take Covid-19 and all of our decisions seriously – the mental and physical health of our community depends on it.  Unfortunately, the current Roadmap you have us on is not good for anyone’s health nor the health of our economy.

We are a small business and run on very thin margins like many other businesses (less than 5% margin).  We view ourselves as a community asset and not a profit-making business.  Therefore, we keep rates low and we give back to the community whenever and wherever possible.  Our lost revenue in 2020 was $505,060 compared to 2019 (a reduction of 63.5%).  This is compounded by high fixed costs amounting to over $21,252 per month.  During the shutdown in 2020 (9 months), that amounts to a $180,342 loss before turning on the lights.

 

What is your end game? What are you doing that is truly helping us to get back on track?  What is being done to help the small businesses like ours and others throughout the State that continue to suffer?  Please do not tell me that everyone is suffering together because it simply is not true.  Walking through any big box retailer, rubbing shoulder to shoulder with our neighbors, will tell you a different story.  Earnings from these large corporations will help add to that story.  Business is good for certain retailers, money is available for other large corporations, unemployment available for most (but not all), and stimulus checks even to those who do not need it and/or kept their job.  But the small businesses that are the backbone of this state, the ones with the entrepreneurial spirit working 14 hr days, the people who are here supporting the masses with food service, fitness, and other goods and services are told to follow orders, ask no questions, and make ends meet with a 2.5x payroll PPP grant covering 10% of the fixed expenses I previously mentioned.  The $12,500 made available from the State to cover Covid-19 related expenses only (read into this plexiglass, masks, and gloves), for which you claim savior status in the media, is inadequate to meet the true expenses incurred.  Small businesses are doing everything they can to create a healthy and safe environment only to be shut down once again.  Give us a bit of credit, we know what needs to be done at this point to keep our neighbors safe in our businesses.

Quit adding to the science Mr. Governor and start “following the science” as you continue to remind us.  The science tells us that our youth are suffering!  Their mental and physical health is taking a hit.  To deny that is putting one’s head in the sand.  The numbers do not lie. Do you know how many children between the ages of 0-17 years have died of Covid-19 in our County? Zero.  Do you know how many children in that same age bracket have committed suicide during that same period of time?  It is not a question anyone wants to answer, but the number is too many! Stop forcing them inside and under isolation. It is not healthy.

It does not stop there.  Adults need a release as well.  The science tells us that the best defense against Covid-19 is a healthy body and cardiovascular system.  How are we maintaining mental and physical health while we are locked in our homes? The answer is, we are not.  What we are doing is forcing everyone inside where they pass the virus around to their loved ones.  Our general adult population is not the one at risk.  Those adults 18-64 years with no underlying health conditions have almost no chance of dying from Covid-19.  So why lock them down? Read the literature. Study the numbers. Follow the Science. 

 

Let’s talk about where help is needed. It is no secret; it is our elderly population (over 65 years).  The members of the greatest generation, the ones that suffered through the worst of times, the heroes that delivered us from evil in the world – we are failing them miserably when they need us most! Time and time again we read of spikes in the numbers, only to find out once again it was an outbreak at one of our senior centers.  This is unacceptable – let’s protect them! 

 

The economy is next Mr. Governor.  Leaders are sitting back allowing you to dictate change without any checks and balances – shame on them!  We need to start questioning the wisdom of blanket shutdowns that do not work.  Ask for the numbers behind the science.  We demand that you start following the guidance of the CDC, rather than making assumptions of your own.  The cure can not be worse than the disease. We have watched while Seattle has died (yes, the Emerald City will be tarnished for many years to come).  Let’s not let that happen to the rest of Washington.  We have too much invested for this to happen.

So what are we going to do Mr. Governor?  We have seen this virus for ten (10) months now.  We can not keep cowering and hope it goes away.  We cannot think that a vaccine will solve all of our problems.  We need to be more strategic about what is going on and be assertive. Making surgical cuts related to closures throughout our economy with a machete is killing us. 

We are tired of the economic injustice that is continuing to take place all around us while we sit idly by hoping for a miracle.  Watching the double standards all around us while the science tells us differently. 

We urge you to take a step back and see what is happening to our state and make appropriate changes to your current Roadmap so that we may all begin to heal.  

 

Sincerely,

 

Bill Wright
Managing Member
Olympic Sports Center

OlyPen Logo_Full Color.png

Dear OlyPen Family,

 

We are happy to report that we will be reopening on January 5, 2021!

This date follows the conclusion of the Governor's current closure order - and will be a hard date opening for us. To be clear, we will be opening on this date regardless of any further guidance.

 

We do not make this decision lightly.  We are very concerned about the health and well being of our players, staff, and community members at large.  We have not and will not do anything to jeopardize the health and safety of our community.

 

Therefore, we are Following the Science to arrive at our decision.

 

Over the past 9 months:
- We have stayed in front of decisions to close out of an abundance of caution when caution was warranted.
- We have abided by the Governor's prior mandates and closed our facility.
- We have worked with others in the industry along with the Governor's office to establish protocols for reopening.
- And, we have studied the science behind COVID-19 and the numbers impacting community members.

 

The graphic  titled "We Are Following The Science", outlines what the numbers (and people smarter than us) are telling us about the disease, its spread, those most affected, and the impact to our community.  What the science tells us about our soccer population is that it is more harmful for us to be closed than to be open.

 

Over the next two weeks leading up to our reopening, we will be sharing information online about each of the 6 key areas of information used to arrive at our decision.  But do not take our word for it, we are providing you with a link to a page on our website that has all of the sources, links, and science that we used to arrive at this decision.  Please educate yourself and visit the raw information here: http://www.OlyPenSports.com/FollowTheScience

 

We would have hoped that the same conclusion about the fitness industry would have been made out of the Governor's office by now considering their own State Department of Health website shows almost no spread coming from such businesses.  Unfortunately, it would seem that while “following the science” is a good sound bite for them, when making shut down decisions, it is then ok for them to rely on "belief" as it was put by a staffer, rather than science.  We, as well as many others, have worked with, provided information, and challenged the Governor's office to provide scientific data to support their position or let youth sports and gyms open up, but they have failed to do so.

 

The stakes are too high to continue blindly following one person's order without proper information. If we were 9 days into this - yes.  But we are 9 months in and a ton of data supports our conclusion and decision - and does not support his. The health and well being of our members depends on our opening.  The livelihood of many of our employees depends on our opening.  And the future of the facility depends on our opening.  Hopefully the Governor can follow his own advice and Follow the Science in 2021. 

 

THEREFORE: All leagues (both youth and adult) and classes (including Rising Force) have been rolled forward with the January 5, 2021 start date.  We remain closed and with limited (no) staffing until that date so please refrain from contacting us if you desire a reply.  

 

We understand that some of you may not be comfortable coming back to play just yet - and that is ok.  We want all members to feel safe and healthy or to stay home until circumstances change.  We are running on the assumption that all teams previously in session in October/November will be returning unless we hear otherwise.  Please speak with your team managers as to whether you and/or your team will be resuming. Please have your team manager contact us via email (info@OlyPenSports.com) by December 31, 2020 only if your team is unable to return at this time.  

 

All of the same social distancing and masking requirements will be in effect upon reopen.  This includes Zero spectators for adults.  One parent per minor.  Check in is still required upon entry.  And wear your mask.

 

We look forward to seeing you on the pitch!

 

OlyPen Sports Management

12.21.2020

OlyPen Family,

We wanted to share with you the letter that we have sent to the Governor's Office for consideration.  You can also find this letter on our Facebook Page if you would like to share it.

Follow the Science

20 November 2020

 

Governor Jay Inslee
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

 

RE:      Reopening Indoor Sporting Facilities

 

Dear Governor Inslee,

We are appealing to you regarding the recent business shutdown in Washington State announced 15 November 2020.  You have stated that due to the recent spike in Covid-19 cases, that “the time has come to reinstate restrictions on activities statewide to preserve the public’s well-being, and to save lives.”  Furthermore, you have stated repeatedly that you have/will “follow the science” when making these tough decisions.

We support the intent behind your order, which is to save lives.  All lives are important and we would expect nothing less.  While there may be disagreement among citizens regarding the reasoning of the shutdown, we would rather not debate that, preferring instead to “follow the science” and apply best practices accordingly.

In your recent proclamation and guidance you have made the decision to shut down all indoor sporting facilities - which includes indoor soccer facilities. We believe that this decision was made without the benefit of fully evaluating the overall impact to businesses, the mental and physical health of citizens, nor “following the science” as you have so clearly stated.

So let's follow the science:

Participation in sports is inconsequential to the spread of Covid-19

A survey was completed by 207 Wisconsin schools that had restarted sports and included data from over 30,000 athletes participating in over 16,000 practices and 4,000 games during the month of September.  In the study, schools were also asked to report the source of the transmission of any positive cases among players. Two known sources made up nearly 96% of the transmissions – Household contacts (55%) and Community Contact (40.7%). Sport contact made up just 0.5% of transmissions (in this instance - 1 case).  This is consistent with information coming out of the NCAA, according to Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated, that “Medical experts in the college sports world say they have no evidence of on-field transmission of the virus.”  

Youth soccer leagues in California this summer found that after holding 143,000 soccer sessions over eight weeks, just 15 confirmed COVID cases were found. All of those players contracted the virus from somebody outside of soccer - meaning no additional infection or virus spread was the result of playing soccer.  

In digging deeper in the science and actual exposure for athletes, the CDC defines a Covid-19 close contact as someone who: Spent a total of 15 minutes or more → within 6 feet of a Covid-19 case → during a 24-hour period.  According to Dellenger, “Few players from opposing teams spend enough time close enough to one another over the course of a game to be considered high-risk contacts (six feet for 15 minutes).”  Referring to an NCAA study, the only position groups to log more than 15 minutes “of close contact” were a (football) center and nose guard. For those two positions, the highest recorded contact was 18 minutes in a game.  For soccer the number is Zero.

Soccer creates an excessive amount of social distancing and spacing

Indoor sporting facilities are quite large by nature. For example, the facility in Bremerton is 50,000 sq ft and contains two (2) large fields and one (1) small field.  One field on its own is over 13,760 sq ft.  Recent Covid-19 protocols implemented reduced total players on the field down to twelve (12).  The square footage allotted per player is in excess of 1,140 sq ft.

The US Fire Administration has set guidelines that state, “an assumed occupant load factor of greater than 113 square feet per person indicates that the building could potentially practice social distancing without any impact on the number of people present in the building.” 

Following the science, we have created a situation where we have ten times (10x) the amount of square footage allotted per person for social distancing standards.  The chances of close contact as defined by the CDC is infinitesimal. 

If masking works, then let’s use them

By now we all know the recommendations, mandates, and benefits of wearing a mask. A study backed by the World Health Organization indicates that wearing a mask reduces the risk of transmission by 80% to under a 3% rate of transmission.  Keeping at least three (3) feet of separation reduces the risk by 82% - and we are maintaining greater than six (6) feet.  The combination of these two puts the risk of transmission well below the benchmark of 2.5% set out by Washington state to around 0.5% (which happens to be inline with the Wisconsin study). 

Under your most recent guidance, you allow youth and adult sporting activities to resume (outdoor) activities “with facial coverings required for all coaches, volunteers and athletes at all times.” Why eliminate the opportunity to play in indoor warehouses (where air recirculation and exchange occurs within 10 minutes) under the same guidance?  We are entering the dead of winter where more youth will catch cold or injure themselves from playing in freezing rain on dangerous turf (many of which are still off limits due to school district mandates) than if they were to come indoors.  

If we follow the science, and maintain that masking works, then why not allow indoor facilities to implement the same protocol and require masks be worn by everyone at all times during this period.  There are no studies supporting the closing of facilities due to the increased risk of transmission, therefore, allow citizens a true opportunity to play in a safe environment indoors while wearing a mask.  We have surveyed our membership, and while they would prefer to not wear masks as the data supports, they are more than willing to wear a mask during play if given the choice between playing and not playing.

Covid-19 fatigue is taking a toll on mental and physical health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States with more than 800,000 people dying every year from complications.  Obesity is the second leading cause of preventative deaths with approximately 300,000 deaths per year.  Mental illness has reached international crisis with over 250,000 people attempting suicide in the United States each year.  All of these leading causes are greater than the current rate of death with Covid-19.  And all of these risks will increase as the lockdown continues.  This is not to marginalize the loss of life to Covid-19, but to put into context that there is a cause and effect to every decision.  

We are not disputing that the virus exists.  We are asking for ways to help people cope with the stresses of the continued shutdown, get some well needed exercise, and improve their mental health.  In the recent month that we were allowed to open up our business after 7 months (with a fixed expense cost of over $20,000 per month), we implemented many new protocols to comply with your mandates and create as safe an environment as possible for members.  We were successful!  Feedback from members was exceptional as a small piece of life seemed to get back to normal.  All of our members complied with the masking, social distancing, contact tracing, and other protocols that were put into place during this abnormal time in life.  

After one full month of operation, we had zero cases of Covid-19 reported; zero cases or contacts from the department of health for contact tracing or close contact reports from a positive case; and zero incidence of non-compliance within our facility.  Give people a safe outlet to look forward to that improves both their physical and mental health - they will be better equipped to handle the new everyday pressures from Covid-19.

Final thoughts

 

While business owners appreciate your putting an additional $50,000,000 into relief funds, it will not save businesses. There is not enough to go around to those affected, and quite frankly, they do not need more business loans.  The grant portions are insignificant - in most cases not even covering half of only one monthly fixed expense while shuttered. 

 

Many of our employees rely on us to meet their basic needs. We have had many employees denied unemployment relief for a variety of reasons and/or the coverage is not enough to support them and their families. The federal government has continued to drag its political feet to deny needed help to both businesses and individuals (a 2-3 month round of assistance does not solve a 9 month problem).  Acknowledging there is a problem is not solving the problem.  We must work together to get through this not only from a virus standpoint, but also from an economic standpoint.  Give businesses that can open safely a chance for survival. 

 

This second round shutdown is going to be more critical than the last as people and business are running out of gas in the tank.  They have no more reserves or support to reach out to for bridging the gap.  We can not wait to act - please follow the science and reconsider the current position.

 

Thank you for your time and consideration.  


 

Bill Wright

Managing Partner

Olympic Peninsula Sports

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Dear OlyPen Family,

 

As many of you are now aware, today (11/15), Governor Inslee issued a revised "Stay Safe - Stay Healthy" Proclamation for Washington state effective Tuesday, November 17th and continuing until Monday, December 14th.  The Proclamation effectively shuts us down during this period of time (prohibition #’s 1, 4, and 16 affect us).

 

Along with all of you, we have gone through a range of emotions the past several months - and specifically the last few days - including excitement about reopening, relief to be back to normal and playing .... and now turning again to frustration, anger, worry, lack of understanding, concern for health and safety.  Do we fully comply, or not comply at all? And the list goes on.  We have been listening to all of you.  We have been sharing our thoughts and working to incorporate yours. We are struggling to find a solution.  

 

From an OPS management perspective, we must play the long game.  To put it into soccer terms, we can not argue with a bad call.  We can not despair because we lost a game during the season.  We can not quit because we did not win the Supporters Shield.  We must be mindful of being able to play year after year - for that is our true love of the game. 

 

Keeping those thoughts/concepts in mind, we must look at what we have to lose.  We can not afford to lose any of our required licensing to remain in operation in the long term.  This includes those issued by the Department of Health, Liquor Control Board, Labor and Industries, operating permits by the state of Washington, leases with the City of Bremerton, and above all, we do not want to lose members to Covid-19.  It is not as simple as just staying open - as much as we would like to.

 

We have tried.  Research shows that participation in indoor soccer has not resulted in transmission of Covid-19 (our facility specifically has had zero cases reported and no contact tracing reports requested by the Department of Health).  We, along with others,  petitioned the state to reopen - and were successful!  We implemented new safe start protocols to create more social distancing, we staggered start times, and we created better player flow on and off the field (reducing contact and interaction).  With your help and cooperation we have all been successful!

 

We could not have reopened without you.  We are asking for your help one more time.  For our part, we will continue to petition the Governor's office and provide statistics on the benefits of playing and what we show as low (or near zero) risk of infection and spread.   For your part, we are asking you to bear with us, support the decision, and be there ready to play just as soon as we receive the clearance to reopen.  We can not reopen (again) without your support.

 

Covid-19 is taking a toll on everyone.  We are all feeling the fatigue.  Our healthcare workers and first responders, many of whom are players/friends at OlyPen, have borne an excessive amount of this burden - thank you to them!  Many businesses, employees, and families are suffering and will suffer more because of this new order.  We must be mindful that we as a community are in this together and we will get through it together.

 

On the business side of things, all games are paused and rolled forward to the new opening.  If the Proclamation is extended, we will evaluate team fees, credits, and/or refunds at that time.  As we honored previously, no one will be losing any team fees.

 

We wish there was a different/better solution. If/when one is presented, you will be the first to know and the doors will be open.  Until then, we are asking you to stay safe and healthy - we want to see you all back!

 

Kind regards,

 

Bill Wright

Olympic Peninsula Sports

Dear OlyPen Family,

We have great news to share!  New guidance related to sporting/athletic activities during COVID-19 was released yesterday by the Governor’s office.  The new guidance allows Olympic Peninsula Sports (“OPS”) to reopen and restart league play!  We are targeting Friday, October 16th as our first night of league play!

Here is some vital information you will need moving forward for a Safe Start:

Approved Document from the Governor’s Office:  Under the Governor’s new guidance, soccer is categorized as a “Moderate risk sport” and Kitsap County’s current “County COVID-19 Activity Level” rating (36.7) is Moderate.  The combination of these two items allow us to resume league play as long as we follow the rules contained in the guidance and remain within or better than our county’s current combined rating.    

 

The following are details about the procedures, business decisions, and safety protocols of your center reopening:

 

Leagues

  • We have decided to restart all leagues, both youth and adult, as new sessions. 

  • This decision was made because there is no way for us to anticipate which teams and/or players are prepared to immediately return. 

  • Any players/teams that were paid in full and had games remaining on their schedule prior to the shutdown will have an OPS credit applied to their account.  These credits will be input into the system prior to your first game.

  • Team managers are encouraged to reconnect with your team, assess returning players, and then login to our new Dash system to sign up for a new session. We anticipate the leagues to be posted and open for registration within the next 48 hours. 

  • If you do not have enough players to form a team or you do not have a team to play with, please email us at info@OlyPenSports.com or post to the OPS Bulletin Board on Facebook and we will work to form teams for the specific leagues.

  • WE NEED ALL OF YOUR HELP IN REBUILDING AND RESTARTING OUR LEAGUES – PLEASE SIGN UP EARLY SO THAT WE CAN SCHEDULE TIMES/GAMES. 

  • Please visit  www.OlyPenSports.com for information about our league availability and start dates.

 

Classes

  • All Rising Force Academy (“RFA”) and Force Development Program (“FDP”) classes will resume at the point that they left off. 

  • We are working on maximizing space and minimizing numbers in an effort to ensure safety for all kids and trainers.  

  • RFA and FDP enrolled players/parents will receive emails outlining when classes will restart, what times they will be held, and procedures to follow for a safe restart of these programs.

  • If you are not currently enrolled in one of these programs, but would like to, please email our RFA Director, K-Lee at RFA@OlyPenSports.com or our FDP Director, Dax at FDP@OlyPenForce.com or check the website for available sessions.

Membership

  • Due to increases in insurance premiums for the building and occupants, our annual membership fees are increasing slightly.

  • A standard adult membership fee will be $35.00 and youth will be $25.00 effective upon your next renewal date.

  • We have added supplemental insurance coverage to our insurance policy for our members, which is the primary reason for the price increase.

  • All expired memberships will need to be renewed prior to play/participation at Oly-Pen Sports.  This includes membership that expired during the shutdown*.

* We were hoping to find a way to extend the memberships, however, the length of time and the ongoing cost of the insurance for players was required to be paid throughout the 7 months of closure. Thank you for your understanding in this matter.

Facility

  • DO NOT show up to play if you are experiencing ANY symptoms of illness.  Players that do so, may have their membership revoked, and suspension administered.

  • Face coverings are REQUIRED in all areas of the facility unless playing, eating, or drinking.

  • Before and after playing, wash hands or use one of our hand sanitizing stations located at several places around the facility.

  • No spectators are allowed for Adult Leagues.  Youth Leagues may have one parent per child;  spectators must wear masks and maintain social distancing at all times.

  • We have put up plexi-glass protection at our Guest Services and Café counters for everyone’s safety.

  • Game times and lengths will be adjusted slightly to optimize time between games for cleaning and to minimize contact between groups of players on teams not playing against each other.

  • There will be protocols for entrance and exit onto the fields, please follow them.

  • The Café will run a limited menu for the near future.  You are welcome to stay and grab a snack or drink after your game but please continue to observe current COVID-19 guidelines (i.e. wear a mask, wash hands, social distance, no groups larger than 5 to a table).

  • Surfaces will be disinfected each hour by staff.  Player bench areas will be disinfected between games.

  • The facility will be disinfected at the end of each day of business.

There will be additional information sent out over the next 7-10 days as we prepare to safely reopen your facility.  Please read all the information as it will be critical to ensuring that we are able to open, and stay open, for your enjoyment moving forward.  We are also updating all of our websites, systems and processes and we really appreciate everyone’s patience in waiting for this day.  Please, if you do not intend to follow these guidelines, do not return at this time.  We understand that people will have differences of opinion regarding the necessity of COVID-19 guidelines, however, please leave those opinions at the door. We are required to follow and are adhering to Washington state guidelines in order to reopen this facility safely for all of our members - we will have zero tolerance for anyone putting the center at risk for being closed again.  


 

Thank you and we look forward to seeing you soon!

 

Bill Wright                         Micah McMonagle              OlyPen Staff
Managing Partner            General Manager

1199 Union Ave. W | Pendergast Park | Bremerton, WA 98312 | (360) 479-8388 | Info@OlyPenSports.com

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