Some San Diego County families are demanding the State of California relax the current restrictions on youth sports. Currently, youth sporting events, tournaments and competitions are not permitted due to COVID-19 guidelines.
On Saturday, hundreds of people gathered at the County Administration Building in hopes of pressuring Gov. Gavin Newsom to change the rules.
“Let us play!” the crowd chanted as parents and players took to the stage and talked about why they want to return to the playing field.
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“It takes a toll on a kid. Psychologically, mentally, emotionally,” said Victor Bacalao, a father of three from Chula Vista.
Like many parents, Bacalao is concerned about his family’s physical and mental health.
“Especially for kids who have ADHD like my son has. That’s what keeps them active,” said Bacalao.
Bacalao knows the risk of coronavirus first hand. His family all contracted the virus in June. His wife and father-in-law were each hospitalized for a week.
“We survived it. My wife was pregnant. It was a nightmare. I don’t wish it on anybody,” said Bacalao.
Youth sports leagues can practice, but teams are traveling to other states to play games. Parents say they’ve taken their children to games in Arizona, Nevada and Utah.
“We’re going to Arizona. We’re paying thousands of dollars to go to Arizona so we can scrimmage. It’s a joke,” said Kelly Lake, a Carlsbad resident and mother of four children.
For families, the extra travel is an added expense. They’re also traveling hundreds of miles and being potentially exposed.
“I hope it all goes back to normal and we can just play and not have to travel to Arizona to play two games,” said Macy Kelly, a 14-year-old soccer player.
Not all families are ready to return to the field during the pandemic. Coaches understand some families are dealing with sensitive medical conditions, but coaches also say the majority of parents think they can return to competitive play safely.
A spokesperson for the county said leaders understand the urge, but they will continue to follow the state's lead.
“We understand everyone wants to get going again, said San Diego County spokesperson Michael Workman. But the state guidance on competition is clear for now. That is the guidance we are following."
Workman says the state has no immediate plans to update it's restrictions.