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'Let them play' say youth sports advocates during Friday rally

About 20 people rallied outside Sequoia High School calling for student athletes to be allowed to compete again

People stood on the corner of El Camino Real and James Avenue on Jan. 15 advocating for youth sports competitions to begin again. Photo by Angela Swartz.

About 20 student athletes and their parents gathered with signs and masks along El Camino Real in front of Sequoia High School in Redwood City Friday, Jan. 15, to plead with officials to allow them to compete again. The start date of high school sports has been pushed back repeatedly as officials respond to changing state and county rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was one of a series of statewide protests under the name "Let Them Play" held Friday at 4 p.m. to advocate for the return of youth sports.

Becky Cordero, one of the Sequoia event's organizers and a parent of a senior who plays volleyball at Woodside High School, said she wants to see athletes safely restart play.

"I strongly believe we can do this safely while at the same time getting back into sports," she said, noting not being able to play has been "really rough" on her daughter. "I'm a marriage and family therapist, so I’m seeing firsthand how it's affecting (students') mental and physical health."

Organizers invited students from Menlo-Atherton, Menlo School, Woodside, Eastside Prep, Sacred Heart Preparatory and Woodside Priory schools to the Sequoia event.

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Earlier this month, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the state's governing body for high school sports, said the soonest athletes could return to competition would be Jan. 25.

CIF said girls volleyball, cheerleading, cross country, football, water polo and other sports will start their seasons in January and run into April. Cross country is the only season that can begin while San Mateo County is in the purple COVID-19 tier, which signifies widespread transmission risk. The county has to improve to the orange tier (moderate risk) to start football and volleyball competition.

"We fully support the safe return to play for our athletes and we've been working hard to get this done since last March," said M-A Athletic Director Paul Snow in a Jan. 14 email. "We are hopeful that we'll have some sports starting to compete soon and other athletes will be able to practice with their teammates until restrictions ease up. We want to stress the importance of masking up and keeping socially distant, the better we are at this, the sooner we get back to the playing surface!"

Back in the fall, CIF said seasons would resume in December, but the starting date has been pushed back.

Some district teams have been holding physical conditioning, practice, skill-building and training outdoors at 6 feet apart.

Locally, another "Let Them Play" rally was planned to take place at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara.

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'Let them play' say youth sports advocates during Friday rally

About 20 people rallied outside Sequoia High School calling for student athletes to be allowed to compete again

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Jan 15, 2021, 5:46 pm

About 20 student athletes and their parents gathered with signs and masks along El Camino Real in front of Sequoia High School in Redwood City Friday, Jan. 15, to plead with officials to allow them to compete again. The start date of high school sports has been pushed back repeatedly as officials respond to changing state and county rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This was one of a series of statewide protests under the name "Let Them Play" held Friday at 4 p.m. to advocate for the return of youth sports.

Becky Cordero, one of the Sequoia event's organizers and a parent of a senior who plays volleyball at Woodside High School, said she wants to see athletes safely restart play.

"I strongly believe we can do this safely while at the same time getting back into sports," she said, noting not being able to play has been "really rough" on her daughter. "I'm a marriage and family therapist, so I’m seeing firsthand how it's affecting (students') mental and physical health."

Organizers invited students from Menlo-Atherton, Menlo School, Woodside, Eastside Prep, Sacred Heart Preparatory and Woodside Priory schools to the Sequoia event.

Earlier this month, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the state's governing body for high school sports, said the soonest athletes could return to competition would be Jan. 25.

CIF said girls volleyball, cheerleading, cross country, football, water polo and other sports will start their seasons in January and run into April. Cross country is the only season that can begin while San Mateo County is in the purple COVID-19 tier, which signifies widespread transmission risk. The county has to improve to the orange tier (moderate risk) to start football and volleyball competition.

"We fully support the safe return to play for our athletes and we've been working hard to get this done since last March," said M-A Athletic Director Paul Snow in a Jan. 14 email. "We are hopeful that we'll have some sports starting to compete soon and other athletes will be able to practice with their teammates until restrictions ease up. We want to stress the importance of masking up and keeping socially distant, the better we are at this, the sooner we get back to the playing surface!"

Back in the fall, CIF said seasons would resume in December, but the starting date has been pushed back.

Some district teams have been holding physical conditioning, practice, skill-building and training outdoors at 6 feet apart.

Locally, another "Let Them Play" rally was planned to take place at Wilcox High School in Santa Clara.

Comments

Karen
Registered user
another community
on Jan 18, 2021 at 12:50 pm
Karen, another community
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Not playing sports may be "rough" on kids, but contracting Covid 19 and having to be hospitalized, or giving it to another family member, might be a little tougher to endure...not to mention the risk of putting more stress on our hospital workers. It's foolish and irresponsible to even suggest a resumption of school sports when our Covid numbers are skyrocketing, a newer, more infectious strain of the virus is here, and hospitals are having to resort to "Freezer trucks" as part of their protocol for dealing with the high number of Covid related deaths. I think the kids can wait a few more months with their psyches intact.


not black & white
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 18, 2021 at 1:38 pm
not black & white, Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 1:38 pm

[Portion removed due to disrespectful comment or offensive language]
It's a very difficult situation and there could be ways to minimize the risk while allowing athletes to play. We are talking about long term repercussions on athletes ability to play in college, get recruited, and in some cases change the course of their lives by limiting their opportunities.


Local shopper
Registered user
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Jan 18, 2021 at 2:30 pm
Local shopper, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 2:30 pm

I am a teacher and a mother of a collegiate athlete and one who hopes to be. Students who have been used to a certain level of activity have been cut off from it with a severe impact on their mental health. Moreover, as a teacher and a mother, I can tell you that depression skyrocketing is devastatingly real. I can count four suicide attempts of young people I know personally; it has been more than "rough." We have learned a lot about what does and does not work during this almost year-long shutdown. This weekend, I hiked the Stanford dish, shopped at Target, Costco, and Safeway. All were teaming with adults exercising and shopping. I'm glad we seem to have found a way to take care of the adults-- we need to do more to bring back normalcy for youth.


Local Mom
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 18, 2021 at 4:09 pm
Local Mom, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Jan 18, 2021 at 4:09 pm

Of course I'd like to see kids back playing high school sports (my own included), but I'd really like to see them back in the classroom. I would like the district to prioritize getting kids in-person at least in core academic classes. Right now, kids have nothing in-person and that's the worst of all worlds.


Focus on health
Registered user
Portola Valley: Westridge
on Jan 19, 2021 at 12:18 pm
Focus on health, Portola Valley: Westridge
Registered user
on Jan 19, 2021 at 12:18 pm

This new variant of COVID 19 is much more contagious than the original, I've read. That means that even exercising outdoors and using social distancing (while not wearing a mask, if running, etc) may not be enough to keep everyone safe. I'd love for things to be all back to normal, but they aren't---and in CA, not even close. There are very few ICU beds available---why take the risk? Kids can still get together outside masked, and socially distanced, but still be able to see each other and talk in person. I realize how hard this is on everyone, but it's even harder when your child (or your spouse, or your mother) is ill, and there's nothing you can do about it. COVID is no joke, and even if you think your child will be just fine, how do you know they won't spread it? Please take a moment and value the health of everyone in your community---find a way to support your children safely, while keeping everyone else---especially those who MUST be in contact with the public---safe. Thank you.


Local Parent
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 19, 2021 at 10:29 pm
Local Parent, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Jan 19, 2021 at 10:29 pm

I see both sides of this issue. Teens absolutely can practice safely outdoors and even compete in some sports with safety measures, but the school grounds are closed and willing coaches and kids are told they can't even do that. Some teams are practicing elsewhere, and others have nothing. Kids need the exercise and socialization, plus opportunities to grow developmentally, and are suffering. Some teams are even going out of state to games and tournaments because it's the only way to do anything.

At the same time, cases have been surging for a couple months now and hospitals are full. No one wants to increase caseloads and make family members, coaches or kids sick.

There has to be a middle ground, and so far the county and state haven't offered really anything.

At least let kids practice with masks and distance rules. Adults are swarming parks and beaches.


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