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California Youth Coaches Pen Letter to Governor

Andy Berg

A group of coaches from across California have written an open letter to governor Gavin Newsom this week, asking to be released from the state’s phased reopening system.

The letter, which was delivered to Newsom on Tuesday, argues for a quick reopening of youth sports in California, laying out: infection data collected from other states; workout data from California schools; the mental health impact of not having sports on children; and the unique impacts of not having sports on children living in low-income situations. 

“The current youth sports color tiered system is decoupled from the actual data available,” reads a letter signed by Sierra High School head coach Patrick Walsh and six other prominent coaches, according to reporting from the California News Times. “As a result of this system, the mental health of all children who play youth sports in our state is rapidly deteriorating. This system allows people who can afford private schools, people who live in higher economic districts, and creates a rapidly widening socio-economic disparity among those who can afford a club team that violates the present and travels thousands of people each week outside the state order. To save the youth in California, we demand that youth sports be completely separated from the colored hierarchical system." 

Walsh collected data from training at 275 school throughout California, including 105 football programs and found only 11 cases of COVID-19. However, in a survey of about 10 percent of state football programs, Walsh said more than 1,000 student athletes are currently ineligible due to poor grades and 253 have dropped out altogether. According to Walsh, an additional 85 people joined a gang, 64 were newly imprisoned, and 38 became young fathers.

“We are confident that our data in these four areas will convince you that California can safely and quickly return to competition with reasonable Covid-19 safety modifications,” the letter states. “This return will afford us the opportunity to reverse the youth mental health crisis. Finally, by letting youth sports to resume, you will send a message to the inner cities that they matter.” 

California youth sports were discontinued and the state has not set a timeline for reopening.

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