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Let Them Play CA

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

by Jackson Burchard

Your senior year of high school is meant to be the “piece de resistance” of your educational career. This last year of adolescence also usually coincides with your last year of playing sports competitively. It’s something that I, as well as many of my peers, have been dreaming about since our freshman years on JV. Dreams of CIF finals with the captain’s armband on our shoulder, senior nights with our parents walking next to us… Yet, I haven’t played in a soccer game since February 18, 2020, a devastating loss in the CIF quarterfinals. As we edge closer to a year since I have played competitive soccer, is that really to be my final game ever? These aren’t just my thoughts either. I have heard practically everyone complaining and wondering whether we would ever get to play sports again. Fellow senior Simone Cobb, varsity track and softball star, echoed these sentiments, “ Sports are and have been my life for as long as I can remember. When I found out we might not get our senior season, I was devastated. It was like they were taking a part of me away.” Seeing this outcry from students for youth sports to continue, Let Them Play California has been created to fight on our behalf, an organization of students, parents, and coaches to petition our state’s governor to remove the color-tiered system from youth sports resumption.

Over the summer and the dog days of the pandemic, I experienced an extreme lack of motivation to do anything. It got so bad that some days I struggled to get out of bed. When one has a routine of working out and training everyday doing something you love, you become dependent on it. It keeps you going. But when the gyms were closed and my daily soccer training sessions turned into Zoom meetings, I fell into a deep pit of boredom and depression. The ban on youth sports competitions has created alarming repercussions on mental health, in areas such as anxiety, depression, and even suicide. In a survey conducted on 8000 high school students, the prevalence of depressive symptoms was 43.7%, anxiety symptoms was 37.4%, and both anxiety and depressive were 31.3%. These numbers will only get worse as time goes on.

Let Them Play California, along with various coaches from the state, drafted a letter to Governor Newsom on the topic, stating that during this pandemic, “over 40 states conducted youth athletic competitions during the Covid pandemic. Student athletes returned to competition without posing a significant health risk through the implementation of reasonable safety measures. The workout data collected from over 275 California high school football programs from across the state since May 1, 2020, reveals that professional coaches, while following protocols, have created safe environments for our state’s youth. These coaches follow local, county and state guidelines and collectively create environments where students and coaches work together with extremely low, Covid transmission with zero hospitalizations and zero deaths.”

Another point of view most likely not seen in Point Loma is youth sport’s effect on inner city children. Inner city coaches have reported a sharp rise in gang membership, drug and alcohol use, school dropouts, and incarceration. Coaches attribute these behaviors to student athletes lacking direction and a team identity that previously brought discipline, accountability, and hope to their lives.

So my final question is, why not? If we have data from 40 other states stating why it is possible and proven safe, data from countless medical institutions stating how detrimental it is to children’s health, data from inner city coaches and mentors showcasing the increase in gang activity and drug use in our kids, why not at least try?


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