SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Attorneys for the San Diego section of the California Interscholastic Federation said Wednesday that the CIF will comply with a recent court order allowing youth sports to resume countywide, though whether sports activities resume will largely depend on the individual schools' ability to meet testing standards and other COVID-19 protocols utilized by professional or collegiate teams.
Following Friday's temporary restraining order ruling by a Vista judge allowing youth sports in San Diego County to resume "as long as the(y) follow the same or similar COVID-19 protocols imposed for competition in professional and/or collegiate sports," attorneys were back in court Wednesday morning to argue over whether the CIF was in contempt of the judge's order.
Attorneys representing two local high school athletes who sued the state and county to resume youth sports alleged in a recent filing that the CIF has violated the court order by stating it would follow the state's tiered reopening guidelines rather than the order issued by San Diego Superior Court Judge Earl H. Maas III.
In last week's ruling, Maas wrote that he agreed with the plaintiffs that young athletes were not at greater risk of contracting or transmitting COVID-19 than their professional or collegiate counterparts.
"The game is the same, the risk of spread is similar, the youth are already practicing and with school closures or limitations on attendance, youth are isolated," Maas wrote.
CIF attorneys said in court Wednesday that the organization will comply with the order, but it could not be held in contempt because it was not a party to the lawsuit. Maas agreed and denied the contempt of court request, saying he did not have jurisdiction to do so.
On Tuesday, the CIF issued a statement outlining its concerns with following the court order, particularly regarding financial impacts and equity issues for schools across the county.
"The order obtained by the Plaintiffs appears to require our member schools to apply the more rigorous and costly COVID-19 protocols of our local San Diego professional and intercollegiate sports teams," the statement read. "Prior to the issuance of Friday's order, our member schools were required to comply with less arduous and less expensive COVID-19 procedures. This decision may have unintentionally increased the costs of COVID-19 protocols for our member schools."
The statement alleged that the ruling could allow schools with greater financial resources to resume sports, while others would be precluded due to an inability to meet the required protocols.
The CIF's statement said it was concerned with "the real prospect that the order will create a two-tiered system within the section whereby communities and schools with the financial means are able to comply with the COVID-19 protocols of professional and intercollegiate sports teams, while those communities and schools without the financial means to fund such protocols will be left unable to meet the requirements of the order. The San Diego Section is concerned about its ability to ensure access and equity for all of our member schools and student-athletes as well as any inequity that may arise as a result of this order."
Another hearing is slated for early next month on a preliminary injunction in the case, which was filed on behalf of Nicholas Gardinera, a senior at Scripps Ranch High School, and Cameron Woolsey, a senior at Mission Hills High School. Both students are football players at their respective schools.