Which youth sports can soon resume playing in Central California?

The new guidance allows for some outdoor sports to resume across the state based on the county tier-system. So what does that mean for Central California:
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- For the first time since student-athletes were sidelined from sports, a glimmer of hope as the state inches closer to allowing all outdoor competition.

Cross country runners laced up at Madera South for the first time since statewide school closures last March.

The district-wide meet showed what we can expect as more sports are given the green light.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that contact sports including football and water polo can return once their county reaches a case rate of 14 or fewer per 100 thousand.

He added, "We still need to be cautious until we reach herd immunity."

The announcement comes with strict guidelines, including testing requirements for sports where students will be unmasked and in close proximity to each other for long periods of time.

Guidelines he said he made in conjunction with several student-athlete advocacy groups including "let them play."

Hoover High head football coach and member of the Central Section Coaches Association, Rus Pickett, says that process has been a testament to student-athlete resiliency, both physically and mentally.

"We talk about finding a way to love the process vs the reward and this has all been a process," he said.

As for keeping them in competition, he says that's a team effort.

"You have to work hand in hand with the district and every stakeholder from administration to coach to player to parents to community member has to help this out so we can do it safely and still give our student-athletes a season," he said.

Madera Unified's athletic director and CIF state executive board president-elect, Marty Bitter says there also needs to be an acclimation period for football before the first game.

"Roughly 14 practices, 10 of those have to be padded prior to competition," he said.

In Central California, only Mariposa county has reached the case rate of 14 or fewer per 100 thousand.

The following sports are considered low-contact outdoor sports that can resume in purple counties, according to the state's guidance:
  • Archery
  • Badminton (singles)
  • Biking
  • Bocce
  • Corn hole
  • Cross country
  • Dance (no contact)
  • Disc golf
  • Equestrian events (including rodeos) that involve only a single rider at a time
  • Fencing
  • Golf
  • Ice and roller skating (no contact)
  • Lawn bowling
  • Martial arts (no contact)
  • Physical training programs (e.g., yoga, Zumba, Tai chi)
  • Pickleball (singles)
  • Rowing/crew (with 1 person)
  • Running
  • Shuffleboard
  • Skeet shooting
  • Skiing and snowboarding
  • Snowshoeing
  • Swimming and diving
  • Tennis (singles)
  • Track and field
  • Walking and hiking

  • In Mariposa County, those sports, along with badminton (doubles), baseball, cheerleading, dodgeball, field hockey, gymnastics, kickball, lacrosse (girls/women), pickleball (doubles), softball, tennis (doubles) and volleyball may resume.
    In counties where COVID-19 cases rates are at or below 14 people per 100,000, more high-level contact sports including football and soccer can resume, but all coaches and players 13 and older must get tested once a week. Test results must be available within 24 hours of competition.

    As of February 16, here's how those conditions look for counties in Central California (Click here to view on California's COVID-19 website):

  • Fresno County: 22.4 new cases per 100,000

  • Madera County: 19.0 new cases per 100,000

  • Mariposa County: 4.8 new cases per 100,000

  • Merced County: 30.9 new cases per 100,000

  • Kings County: 38.5 new cases per 100,000

  • Tulare County: 24.5 new cases per 100,000

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    The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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