High school athletes await updated youth sports guidance

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HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif. (KIEM) – After rallies across the state, including multiple in Humboldt County, the Let Them Play CA coalition took further steps to have their voices heard.

Organizers collected letters, delivering them to Gov. Gavin Newsom this week at a rally on the steps of the California State Capitol.

Supporters, including Kristina Christiansen, believe that athletes have been sidelined for too long. The letters explain why athletes want to play and what has been taken away from them. The movement aimed to collect over 10,000 letters and saw support from across the state.

“I’m optimistic because thankfully we have 46 other states playing and we have science and we have data now that says we can do this because other states have done it,” Christiansen said. “I will say there is a lot of hope even among our student-athletes because we know this movement is happening.”

While some high school sports have returned to play, many athletes are still sidelined. The majority of sports are deemed unsafe according to COVID-19 guidelines. Newsom says he has been in deep negotiations with Let Them Play CA and hopes to update youth sports guidance as conditions improve.

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“I have been working personally, directly with advocates that include my wife and myself to get youth sports up and going again,” Newsom said. “Again, I am a father of four young children, four to 11. So forgive the personalization of this, that deeply our desire is to see youth sport competition return.”

The clock is ticking, especially for football. All sports calendars must conclude by June 12, but the football season must end by April 17 to allow enough recovery time for student-athletes before next season.

“Last week the National Federation of High School Sports Advisory and Sports Medicine Council removed the colored tiers after seeing the science and data from the other 46 states that have been doing this successfully since August,” Christiansen said. “We’re asking that our government, California, would do the same thing.”

Newsom has not commented on removing the tiers, but indicated that change is on the way.

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“When I say we are working overtime on that, what I mean by that, is I am hoping in the next number of days to be able to more specifically answer that question because of our commitment to let these kids back out on the field of play,” Newsom said.

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Meanwhile, Let Them Play CA wants to see more.

“It is good to know, but actions speak louder than words, so we are ready for the action now,” Christiansen said.