Parents, students plan rallies to revive high school sports

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SAN DIEGO — Rallies are scheduled Friday at around 100 high schools in California — including more than 20 in San Diego County — in a plea to state leaders to allow school sports to resume.

Local attorney Kenneth Elliott is a co-founder of the group “Let Them Play CA” — which has amassed 32,000 followers on social media.

“We want to let kids know we’re fighting for them. Thirty-five states, I believe, had fall sports last year. The incidents of infection — were very, very, very small,” Elliott argued.

Student-athletes all over California are missing out on big opportunities since the pandemic shut down high school sports last March. Currently, state guidelines allow for distanced practicing and conditioning, but no official competitions.

Westview High School senior Britton Smith – a lineman on the football team – isn’t sure where he’ll get another chance to play. He says five Division I schools were recruiting him, but not now.

“It’s really hard when you have a collegiate coach say that, ‘We really like you – all we would like is some film from your senior season,’ and it doesn’t happen — then they say, ‘Sorry, we filled up our spots – your film didn’t come through,’” Smith explained.

The rallies are not school-sanctioned and will be held off-campus. Rallies will start at 4 p.m. and everyone attending is asked to wear face masks and social distance.

“We want to tell leaders, ‘Please, just sit down with us and let us explain why we believe it is safe and important to reopen youth sports,'” Elliott said.

The California Department of Public Health says that different sports “have different levels of risk for transmission of COVID-19,” but that in general, “the more people from outside their household with whom a person interacts,” the higher their risk. Having competitions with people from different households and even different communities, then, could pose a greater risk for spread, according to the department’s website.

Health officials are also concerned about contact sports where athletes come into close physical proximity on the field, and that “greater exertion increases the rate of breathing and the quantity of air that is inhaled and exhaled with every breath,” meaning heavily breathing athletes could be primed to transmit the virus.

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