Youth sports take a hit amid COVID-19

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The Fresno County Health Department is standing by state guidelines when it comes to school sports. That means most athletic activities are still on hold.

The Athletic Director for Fresno's Kepler Neighborhood School says his students had high hopes for this semester.

"All the kids were motivated because they thought we're going to pick up sports in January," said Athletics Director Elliott Murray.

The stay home order for the San Joaquin Valley region changed the rules -- and created more questions for Murray.

"Now I haven't been to meetings, I don't know what's going on," said Murray. "A lot of kids are feeling discouraged."

Right now, plans for competitive sports are on pause until at least January 25th. Murray says the impacts go far beyond the field.

"Kids look to sports," said Murray. "That's what motivates them, without the sports they feel discouraged, less interested in doing the work."

The stay home order currently allows for physical conditioning, practice and skill-building but with one important restriction.

"You're allowed to practice your sport, but you have to do it while you're six feet away from others," said John Zweifler with the Fresno County Department of Public Health.

Sports will be permitted based on the tier of the county, with outdoor low contact sports coming back first in the purple tier.

"There's some sports you're able to do that," said Zweifler. "You think of sports like tennis, track where you can maintain distance."

As Fresno County moves into less restrictive tiers higher contact sports can return, but health officials say safety will remain the top priority.

"Kids can get COVID, they do get COVID," added Zweifler. "They can spread it to others, so we want to do everything we can to reduce the spread."

As for Coach Murray, he hopes some sports are back on the table soon.

"Hopefully we can get something going before the year's up," said Murray.
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