Across California, Youth Sports Advocates Tell Newsom To ‘Let Them Play’
“Let Them Play” was the slogan at a series of rallies across California on Friday, asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to end coronavirus-related restrictions on competitive youth sports.
At least a dozen rallies with players, coaches, parents and community members were planned around the San Diego region, including one at Torrey Pines High School withCounty Supervisor Jim Desmond.
“Our strengths are our youth. Let our kids play. But rights come with responsibilities," he said. "Off the field, coaches, I would implore your emphasis that players must wear masks and socially distance from the elderly and their parents and grandparents.”
In San Diego county, competitive high school sports have been on hold since mid-March 2020, when COVID-19 restrictions started.
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Supporters of “Let Them Play” argue the lack of organized youth sports negatively impacts the mental health of adolescents and stifles college scholarship opportunities, particularly for low-income families.
Torrey Pines High School football coach Ron Gladnick said their concerns come as many other states have been able to resume competitive youth sports amid the pandemic.
“What we want to do is work together to provide a path for everyone to be safe, for teachers to be safe, but for kids’ mental health and well-being to be served,” he said.
Without high school sports, some athletes are gathering for pick-up games or even traveling out of state with their families for tournaments, which Sharp Rees-Stealy pediatrician Dr. Resham Batra said could risk spreading COVID-19.
“The main risks are infection and transmission of infection basically because in many sports you're in close contact with other people, unable to maintain social distancing,” she said. “When you travel to see other family members or are traveling to other communities to engage in sports activities, the risk for transmission of infection increases.”
Batra added the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children who had a positive COVID-19 test visit a doctor for an in-person check-up prior to resuming sports activity.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends youth limit their sport activities to their own households in counties under the stay-at-home order.
And CDC’s guidelines state “any tournaments or events that involve more than two teams are not currently permitted in California,” with some exceptions being made for non-team sports.