A settlement for a lawsuit filed in San Diego County against Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state has been reached to allow both indoor and outdoor high school sports in California, it was announced Thursday.
“With this settlement, that I imagine the governor had to sign off on, there is going to be indoor sports happening throughout the state of California,” said Marlon Gardinera, Scripps Ranch High School’s head football coach who spearheaded the lawsuit.
Leaders from Let Them Play CA, an organization that advocates for the reopening of youth sports, gathered for a press conference Thursday to announce their county effort's success.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, youth sports were ordered to cease last year. Since then, several parents and children have championed for its return, saying it is unfair that professional athletes have been able to continue on with their own sports while children were not.
Last month, Gov. Newsom announced that outdoor sports are once again allowed in counties that have 14 cases or lower for every 100,000 people so long as safety protocols are followed. San Diego County’s case rate recently satisfied the threshold to allow outdoor youth sports to continue.
For those sports, weekly COVID-19 testing is required for coaches and athletes ages 13 and older in close-contact sports. Testing must be done weekly and 48 hours before any competition.
The governor initially said the state would pay for those tests but later said testing would only be covered for football, water polo and rugby, according to Let Them Play CA's attorney, Stephen Grebing.
School districts and clubs in other sports can sign their organizations up for free testing thanks to a partnership. For more information on getting signed up, click here.
“The indoor sports are going to need testing and unfortunately, the governor has not offered to provide that testing so we came up with a solution," Gardinera said. "Same folks that tried to get sports back have a testing solution so that no school district or school or county says, ‘we can’t do it because we don’t have the resources to test all of these kids.’ So we came up with a solution to do that for them.”
Under the safety guidelines, each athlete will be allowed to have up to four immediate family members in the stands.
Late Thursday, The California Department of Public Health updated its youth and adult sports guidance to allow any youth or adult, indoor or outdoor recreational sports team to resume practice and competition so long as they adhere to the same requirements college athletic programs follow.
The update includes an earlier start date than established in previous guidance from Feb. 19, but adapted the safety requirements to make them more strict.
The plaintiffs in the complaint included Scripps Ranch High School senior Nick Gardinera, his father Marlon Gardinera, Torrey Pines High School’s head coach Ron Gladnick and co-founder of Let Them Play CA, Brad Hensley.
Nick Gardinera, a 17-year-old football player, said he was ecstatic to be back on the field.
“To finally be back out there doing what I love to do, it felt so good to finally be doing what felt so natural," he said. “With the guidelines that have been implemented by the coaches and by the state, I feel pretty safe out there as far as COVID-related issues."