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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on February 23rd, 2021, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 21, Issue 52 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 21, Issue 52

New state guidelines allow for youth sports return

By Malea Martin

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released new guidance on returning to competition for youth and recreational adult sports, but Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham believes it should have happened a lot sooner.

The guidelines, which take effect beginning Feb. 26, categorize sports based on the level of contact between participants. Low contact sports are those which allow 6 feet of distance and consistent mask wearing; medium contact are those with only occasional contact between players; and high contact is defined as sports with frequent or sustained close contact. 

CDPH then matched these categories with the Blueprint for a Safer Economy tiered reopening system. Counties in the purple, widespread tier can bring back outdoor, low contact sports. Red tier counties can bring back outdoor, moderate tier sports. Higher contact and indoor sports are allowed in the orange and yellow tiers. 

As of Feb. 23 assignments, Santa Barbara and SLO counties remain in the purple tier. The state guidelines include a full list of sports that are allowed to compete in the widespread tier, such as cross country, track and field, tennis (singles), swimming and diving, golf, and other low contact sports.

Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham has been a strong advocate for bringing back youth sports during the pandemic.

Cunningham, who has advocated for the return of youth sports during the pandemic, doesn’t agree with the state’s move to link sports return to the county tier system.

“That’s basically a roundabout way of tying the reopening of youth sports to positive cases in the community,” Cunningham told the Sun. “But I’ve been arguing for eight or nine months to California Department of Public Health, the governor’s office, and anyone who will listen, that this whole thing should be tied to hospitalization and ICU capacity, not to positive cases.” 

The lawmaker added that, in his opinion, the return to youth sports competition should have happened months ago.

“More than 40 other states have allowed youth sports to return,” he said. “The fact that it’s taken this long, and we had to build a statewide coalition of coaches and parents and young athletes, meet with the governor over and over and over again, beg for being allowed back on the field, it’s just really absurd.”

However, Cunningham added that allowing any sports back is a step in the right direction.

“The new guidance isn’t a touchdown, but it’s positive yardage,” he said. “And right now, I’ll take whatever we can get in terms of positive yardage. … Because our kids need something. At least this gets some back in practice, at least they can get back on the field.”

Atascadero High School Athletic Director Sam DeRose told the Sun that he is looking forward to having more kids back on the field, after so many months of uncertainty and “planning with a pencil.”

“We are just absolutely ecstatic for this opportunity,” he said. “We were pending those directions. The new guidance opened up the opportunity for some other sports that had initially been postponed, so that’s wonderful.” 

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