California public health officials updated the state’s guidance on youth sports this week, reversing their previous decision to prohibit indoor youth sports from resuming.
The updated guidance, announced Thursday evening, follows the settlement of a lawsuit filed in San Diego alleging that the state’s Feb. 19 guidance allowing outdoor youth sports to resume unfairly discriminated against indoor youth sports while indoor college and professional sports like basketball were still allowed.
The new guidance allows indoor youth sports to resume provided that they follow the same industry guidance and requirements for testing and contact tracing set for college sports.
Counties would also have to have fewer than 14 new cases per day per 100,000 residents to resume indoor sports.
“Our top priority is supporting youth sports to safely return to play, guided by science,” state public health officer and California Department of Public Health Director Dr. Tomas J. Aragon said in a statement.
“Our previous guidance accomplished this by allowing competition in sports with lower risk of transmission to begin sooner if conducted outdoors, which is lower risk than indoors,” Aragon said.
The lawsuit was one of several filed across the state by the law firm Winger Grebing, including one filed in San Mateo County on behalf of Stella Buch, a 14-year-old freshman and volleyball player at Menlo School, an independent school for grades sixth-12th in Atherton.
Winger Grebing attorneys Stephen Grebing and Ian Friedman said in a statement that they were “elated” by the decision.
Youth sports advocates also expressed their happiness following the settlement and updated guidance.
Brad Hensley, the co-founder of the youth sports advocacy group Let Them Play CA, which filed one of the lawsuits, called the updated guidance “the best that we could have got.”
“You can’t let pro or college players a mile down the road from a high school participate in the same sport, with the same risk, subject to the same protocols, and not allow a high school student,” Hensley said.
“You got to at least let us try,” he said.