Watch CBS News

Is California Ignoring Parents' Pleas For Updated Youth Sports Guidance?

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — It's been more than two weeks since the state promised updated youth sports guidelines. CBS13 Investigates has been pushing the state for answers on behalf of parents, players and coaches as thousands of local athletes continue to travel out of state just so they can legally play other local teams

Follow Our Continuing Coverage
CBS13 Investigates COVID Youth Sports Guidelines


Parents Plead for a Return-to-Play Plan

From the baseball diamond to the soccer field, many in the youth sports community are tired of waiting. They've been rallying, sending letters and signing petitions, asking the state for a clear "phased, safe, return-to-play plan."

ALSO READ: Youth Sports Teams Vote To Travel Out Of State Because California Won't 'Let Them Play' Here

CBS13 has received a steady stream of emails from parents asking Investigative Reporter Julie Watts to keep pressing the state for answers.

For weeks, CBS13 has watched the public health briefings alongside parents and coaches (via Zoom). For weeks they've been anxiously awaiting the promised guidance and for weeks they've been left disappointed.

During his October 19th briefing, the governor said "team sports guidelines" would be announced "hopefully as early as late this week or early next week." The following day, Dr. Ghaly announced updated guidelines specific to professional sports stadiums. When questioned about youth sports he said, "Stay tuned, it's something we're working on now."

However, more than two weeks later, there was still no mention at Wednesday's public health briefing, leaving parents across the state exasperated.

"Dr. Ghaly is ignoring public health on this," said Brad, a soccer dad who's traveling to Arizona this week so his daughters can play a soccer game against another local team.

"He's causing us to go stay in a hotel" Brad said. "He's causing us to go to a field that we don't know to play against kids that are in the same school district as some of our kids. So if anything, he's encouraging the spread of COVID instead of us being at home... he's actually making the situation worse."

Risk of Travel V. Risk on the Field

As CBS13 first reported, California is one of the few states where modified youth sports competition is still not allowed, prompting many to travel to states with higher coronavirus rates just to play against kids from their neighborhood. This has raised concerns that they could bring COVID back home.

The CDC recommends against travel for youth sports, instead, encouraging competition against "local" teams. But that's not allowed in California.

Recent studies, commissioned by soccer clubs, indicate the coronavirus risk related to travel may be higher than the risk on the field.

The largest study surveyed 90,000 players from 34 states and found lower COVID-19 rates than in the general population. According to the study out of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, "of the 282 positive cases reported among players, only one was attributed to transmission during soccer activities."

The study also found "100% of clubs reported having a plan in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19, utilizing multiple different risk reduction procedures."

ALSO READ: State Flip-Flops On Youth Sports: No Team Drills Or Conditioning Allowed In Any County

"We have not seen a single case  transmitted on a field or at practice," said Surf Cup CEO Brian Enge after the October 20th briefing.

Enge said Surf Cup, one of the largest soccer tournament organizers in the state, has had 600 kids traveling and competing for 9 weeks.

They've published a white paper, and while not scientific, it's something they hope the state will consider to get kids back on the field.

The Wait Continues 

Once again, on Wednesday, CBS13 had hoped to ask Dr. Ghaly about the public health risk related to kids playing outdoor sports locally vs. the risk of traveling to states with higher COVID rates. However, once again, CBS13 was not permitted to ask a question during the weekly public health briefing.

"We pay the wages of our public officials and they're ignoring our kids," Russ Perez said following the briefing. He's one of many parents who feel their kids are being ignored by public health officials.

Last week, the California Department of Public Health told CBS13 "guidance is expected in the near future." Meanwhile, each week thousands of players continue to travel to states with higher COVID rates just to play against local teams.

Follow Our Continuing Coverage
CBS13 Investigates COVID Youth Sports Guidelines

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.