Governor gives green light for youth sports with restrictions; Kern still ineligible


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Governor Gavin Newsom says outdoor youth sports can resume as early as next Friday, but student athletes in Kern may not throw a starting pitch any time soon. Restrictions bar the county from bringing back competitions until further notice.

“We’ll allow for these sports to resume once the threshold is reached where we have below 14 cases per 100,000,” said Governor Newsom. “For high contact sports like football, we have some testing requirements the state of California will provide for. We will absorb the cost.”

Kern County’s adjusted case rate is nearly twice as bad as permitted for reopening, but some local coaches say the new guidelines give them hope.

“I think we need to embrace that movement of a positive thing that’s happened, which now gives us a little bit of hope,” said Bryan Nixon, Football Coach for Liberty High School. “Now we need to figure out how the testing is going to take place.”

The state won’t allow Kern sports to compete yet, but coaches say they can practice starting next week. Some feel overwhelmed by the planning needed to practice through the pandemic.

“There are things outside of just getting kids out on the field that have to be accounted for,” said Jerald Pierucci, Football Coach for Shafter High School. “Can we offer the kids water out there, or can they bring their own? Simple things like that.”

This comes as many players have spent months on the sidelines.

“It’s like going from couch potato to marathon runner in a day,” said Pierucci. “Shoot, my football players haven’t done competitive football in 15 months.”

Nonetheless, coaches and athletes alike are racing to get back onto the field.

“A major hurdle was jumped over today,” said Nixon. “It’s gonna give them a new sense of appreciation of how precious these moments are.”

The new guidelines apply to all outdoor youth and adult sports, including community-sponsored programs and private clubs. The governor did not make any announcements about indoor sports like basketball.

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