SAN DIEGO – Friday could decide the fate of thousands of youth athletes in California as the “Let Them Play” movement has moved to the courtroom.
A ruling is expected Friday in a lawsuit filed on behalf of two high school seniors claiming unfair treatment by the state towards high school athletes. They’re hoping to get a temporary restraining order to allow football and other sports to begin practicing and playing in full competition.
“Every day makes a huge difference,” said Marlon Gardinera, head football coach at Scripps Ranch High School and a vocal advocate of the Let Them Play CA group. “There’s a finite amount of time to get the fall sports in before we need to make way for the winter and spring sports.”
The complaint filed on behalf of Nicholas Gardinera and Cameron Woolsey challenges the state’s pandemic restrictions that prohibit youth sports, alleging there is no proper data to back up the decision.
Defendants named in the lawsuit include Gov. Gavin Newsom, the state’s Department of Public Health, San Diego County and county public health officer Dr. Wilma Wooten.
A hearing scheduled for Wednesday was pushed to Friday after the state asked for more time. Gardinera’s lawyers agreed to meet Friday, but also called for a ruling that same day.
The hearing is scheduled for 2 p.m.
“Most states have already played, most colleges have filled much of their roster, but I think they’re always looking for California kids, so there’s still a chance,” Gardinera said.
As the state continues to inch toward reopening, including schools, Gardinera says there’s still a lot of good that can come out of the lawsuit if a judge rules in the athletes’ favor.
“If the lawsuit helps make clear that the unequal treatment of high schools have received versus colleges and professionals who’ve been allowed to continue,” he said. “If the lawsuit succeeds maybe it will make way for some groups that might not be covered by the governor’s decision.”