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Some teams struggle to navigate San Diego County's youth sports guidelines

Scripps Ranch Football
Posted at 5:00 PM, Feb 26, 2021

SAN DIEGO COUNTY (KGTV) -- Student-athletes in San Diego County can now legally play sports. But the CIF Commissioner says some teams are having a difficult time navigating the logistics of the San Diego-specific lawsuit.

Starting Friday, youth sports is back.

"It's been almost a year coming, and we're just excited we're at the point where we are right now," CIF San Diego Section Commissioner Joe Heinz said.

Last Friday, Governor Gavin Newsom allowed outdoor sports to resume as long as the area case rate falls below 14 per 100,000. San Diego does not meet those criteria.

But two local student-athletes went to court arguing that they should be able to play too if the pros and colleges play. A judge agreed, granting a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the state rules, allowing all youth sports in the county to resume, as long as they "follow the same or similar COVID-19 protocols imposed for competition in professional and/or collegiate sports within the county." This includes all indoor and outdoor sports at the high school and youth club and travel levels. But Heinz says it is not that simple.

"They hear, 'Hey TRO! We can open up sports now, and things that weren't going can now go!' But realistically, our schools have to have time to understand what are all the implications and can we do it?" Heinz said.

The state's rules say as long as the team fits the criteria, the state will pay for COVID testing for football and water polo. San Diego's lawsuit says now all teams, including indoor sports like volleyball and basketball, must make specific COVID guidelines, test players 48 hours prior to games, and pay for the tests like the colleges and big leagues do. Heinz says the problem is, not all teams have the resources.

"It wasn't the intent for the 'Let Them Play (CA)' folks. It's definitely not the intent for us. That's the unintended consequences our schools have to work through to ensure that they aren't providing inequitable situations for any of our schools or student-athletes," Heinz said.

Because of this, many schools have said they are not ready to play yet, which limits who gets to play who. Still, Heinz says coaches who have started practices are determined to keep their kids and staff safe.

"The ultimate person who would be responsible for coming in and say, 'Hey, let us see your plan,' or 'This isn't being done with your plan,' would be the County Department of Health. They are the ones that monitor and oversee that," Heinz said.

San Diego County's TRO lasts until March 9, 2021. At that time, if the county falls under the 14 per 100,000 case rate threshold, the court will decide whether to revert to the state guidelines or create another San Diego-specific set of rules.