On Friday, an Assembly Concurrent Resolution that would call on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to have youth sports in California be immediately reinstated and have athletes play as soon as possible, gained critical Senate and Assembly support.
The Assembly Concurrent Resolution, authored by Assemblymen James Gallagher (R-Yuba City) and Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin), specifically states that the California State Assembly urges the CDPH to create new health and safety guidelines to have youth sports and competition to return in California immediately with proper protocols in place.
Assemblymen Gallagher and Kiley authored the ACR, also known as the “Let Them Play” resolution, due to California being one of the few states, along with Michigan and Hawaii, to not allow youth sports to continue until later in the year. While Monday’s statewide reopening announcement will allow some non-group sports such as track and field to start up again, many, such as football and basketball are still delayed. And with California Health and Human Services (CHHS) Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly recently announcing that those sports may see another delay after expecting return next month, many athletes say that was the final straw. Numerous rallies for youth sports reinstatement happened earlier this month, with many more planned for February.
As the ACR and news reports point out, many schools are actually losing students who move out of state in a desperate attempt to play, be seen, and earn scholarships to college. The authors of the ACR specifically noted the negative effects it is having on students, including adding to further socio-economic disparity and a rise in crime in the state among youths who would otherwise be playing.
Lawmakers explain the immediate need for youth sports to return
“Some coaches are reporting that the ban on youth sports has resulted in a sharp rise in gang membership, drug and alcohol use, school dropouts, and incarceration,” noted Assemblyman Gallagher earlier this week. “They have also reported an alarming social equity disparity, as private schools and exclusive club teams continue to participate in sporting activities. It’s wrong, and the decision is having a devastating impact on our youth. The Legislature needs to weigh in immediately.”
Assemblyman Kiley agreed: “Once again the decisions being made in Sacramento have made our state the exception rather than the rule, keeping in place restrictions that hurt the health and well-being of our kids. It’s time to follow the evidence and the rest of the country in bringing back youth sports in California.”
Both the CHHS and the CDPH have said that the stoppage of youth sports, as well as the continued delay of bringing back those sports, is due to health and safety concerns. Schools have also been reluctant to endorse bringing back sports quicker, with even now-legal sports such as track and field competitions being cancelled this weekend by the schools because of health and safety concerns.
With fall and winter sports now on the brink of cancellation, and only one lawsuit currently challenging the closures in court, many lawmakers signed on to be co-authors of the ACR on Friday, adding more weight to the movement to bring back youth sports in February. Among the signees on Friday was Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee).
“This ‘Let Them Play’ resolution will tell the Newsom Administration that it’s time to let kids back on to the court, field, and track,” Senator Jones said on Friday. “For almost a year, organized sports for youth have been locked-down by the Governor. The negative physical and mental health effects on young people have been devastating. Other states are safely letting their kids play so why can’t California? Exercise and teamwork are an important part of physical and mental wellbeing.”
The ACR is expected to be decided on in the Assembly soon. Should it pass, authors hope it will bring enough pressure on the state to reinstate youth sports in time for football, basketball, and other winter and delayed fall sports to continue this year.