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Rally Calls for Sports Restart

Photo by Mitch Lehman / TRIBUNE
Erika Foy, Ally Pernecky, and Cathy, Makena and Kayla Giddings were at last Friday’s “Let Them Play” rally.

Car horns blared and balloons bobbled in a light breeze last Friday afternoon when approximately 75 young athletes, their coaches and parents participated in a statewide “Let Them Play, California,” rally, which urged state officials to allow for youth sports to begin immediately.
Locally, the event was organized by Aly Pernecky, Erika Foy and Angela Buchanan and held at Blair High School at the corner of Glenarm and Marengo. It was attended by several San Marino families, including Daisy Wilson and Dan Giddings, the two immediate past presidents of San Marino National Little League.
“It was a great turnout supporting a great cause,” said Wilson, the mother of four ages 7, 10, 12 and 14. Wilson is the current president of SMNLL and had just overseen Opening Day ceremonies shortly before the pandemic hit. Her presidency has been extended indefinitely and Wilson said on Tuesday she is hoping for a delayed start to the 2021 season, possibly in March or April.
“Kids need school sports and recreation youth sports not only for their physical well-being but also for their social and emotional well-being,” said Wilson. “Let them play!”
“Public health is about everyone,” said Foy. “The public policy to manage the pandemic should not burden one group over the other. Our kids are carrying the burden more than they should and their developmental process is being deeply affected by the shutdowns with no school or sports. It is important our public officials listen to the community it is representing and to those who are living with the consequences of these policy decisions.”
The San Marino Unified School District began masked, socially distanced workouts for its athletes last fall, but has shelved them for at least the month of January at the urging of the Los Angeles County Department of Health, to the dismay of many.
“Our kids being locked down since March of last year has been an absolute tragedy and nightmare,” said Giddings, a San Marino High School graduate and father of three. “According to the Wall Street Journal, there has been no evidence that COVID-19 spreads during competition. We have seen this with pro sports and across the nation as our states are allowing youth and high school athletes to play.”
Foy agreed.
“The science regarding spreading in schools has evolved while our policies of keeping schools and organized sports closed haven’t,” she said. “Countless studies from the CDC, the Academy of Pediatrics, prestigious universities like Johns Hopkins, Brown and Duke have proven kids do not spread the virus to adults, including to teachers. We can no longer say these current closures are helping curb the spread. They clearly aren’t, as California has not had children on campuses for nearly a year.”
Last July 20, the California Interscholastic Federation — the state’s governing body for high school athletics — announced its updated schedule for the 2020-21 school year that kept all previous sports but employs a two-season format that was scheduled to begin in December. The CIF’s new calendar postponed the beginning of the traditional fall season to that month, with several sports being shuffled between seasons. The last day for all other rescheduled fall sports fell sometime between March 20 and April 17. Winter sports, such as basketball, were woven into spring sports, with regional or state playoffs ending June 19. The decision to close down athletics dealt a severe blow to that schedule.
In October, San Marino High School athletes began socially distanced training sessions in swimming, water polo, cross country, track and field, baseball, basketball, football and volleyball, all of which have been suspended until at least Feb. 1.
Giddings said the closure “touches me personally.”
“I have a sophomore at SMHS who plays two sports, an 8th-grader at Huntington Middle School who played five sports and a 2nd-grader at Valentine whose New Year’s resolution was to play softball and soccer ‘with her friends’ in 2021,” explained Giddings. “Seeing her write that just broke my heart, and emphasized the need for us to take action, be heard and ensure the government officials know that this issue needs important consideration, as they’re the ones locking down our children.”

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