By Anna Hanuska
When the Covid-19 pandemic began, contact sports were quickly banned, but should they stay that way? With the limits left to each individual state or county, some teams have found ways around the restrictions. When Santa Clara County banned soccer games, many teams traveled out to Modesto to play games and scrimmages, determined to keep their skills sharp. While California as a whole outlaws tournaments, teams can still travel to Arizona and Nevada to compete, with no masks, against teams from all over the country. Irresponsible, these players hope to use these far away tournaments to impress college recruiters, since they can’t do so back at home. Additionally, parents and coaches worry that lack of practice could put players at risk for injuries upon return to normal play.
Surely, out of state tournaments with diverse teams from all over the nation have a higher chance of spreading the virus, so California ought to take steps to prevent them. Making local-only games and tournaments legal would allow the state to enforce proper social distancing and discourage geographic mixing of teams (and their germs!). Another possible approach is that of Delaware: prohibiting youth sports teams from crossing state lines for tournaments. With that rule, California would be able to limit games without worrying about the state-crossing loophole. The leagues that regulate each sport should agree to enforce these new guidelines by disqualifying teams who break them. That way, teams would have an actual incentive to comply (because, well, not everyone even follows the current guidelines, as evidenced by the large gatherings seen on social media). Thus, both the state and the sports leagues must cooperate to set proper precautions at games and punishments for lawbreaking teams in order to prevent further spread of the virus.
*This article was written before Santa Clara County entered the purple tier. All ideas about re-legalizing sports are contingent on returning to lower risk tiers.