Play Ball! County Case Rate Permits Resumption of Youth Sports

However, co-founder of Let Them Play CA says case rate is irrelevant and yjsy San Diego youth sports were already allowed to play based on group's lawsuit

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Now that San Diego County's COVID-19 case rate has dipped below the threshold of 14 cases per 100,000 residents, youth sports can begin competition based on guidelines set by the state.

The co-founder of the group Let Them Play CA, however, said the case rate number is irrelevant and youth sports were already legal to play based on a temporary restraining order issued by a San Diego Superior Court judge last month.

“As it relates to San Diego and youth sports, it’s not relevant,” Brad Hensley said.

The court order essentially eliminated the state’s color tier system as it relates to youth sports, allowing children to participate in sports "as long as they follow the same or similar COVID-19 protocols used for competition in professional and/or collegiate sports within the county."

Hensley conceded that the lawsuit has caused some confusion among local youth sports organizations.

“Frankly, we’re seeing confusion because people are saying, 'Do we still follow state guidance or does this TRO trump that?' " Hensley said. "In San Diego County, we are a go for all sports both indoor and outdoor."

Hensley said his group is now working with the CIF to finalizing safety protocols that include testing, contact tracing and spectator rules.

“Unfortunately, it’s very complex, and we don’t want it to be," Hensley said. "The best solution is to come together -- the state, us, the CIF -- let's figure out a uniform solution across the country, across all sports, that we can all live with that’s safe but makes it easy for the kids to participate."

Hensley has a vested interest in seeing youth sports begin again: His 17-year-old son is the starting quarterback on the Mission Hills High School football team.

“It’s been awesome,” said Gunnar Hensley, who is a junior at the school. "It’s, like, all around, the whole day just has a better mood to it. You have something to look forward to, and just being on that practice field, it’s a lot of energy to me and my teammates."

According to a previous press release issued by the CIF, the high school football season is scheduled to start March 11.

Other sports will follow, with baseball, softball, and boys and girls lacrosse set to open their seasons March 13. Boys and girls water polo can start April 17.

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