New lawsuit aims to bring back all youth sports in Riverside County

Olivia Sandusky

Athletes in the Coachella Valley are excited to take the field after Friday’s statewide ruling allowed some outdoor competition to return.

Indoor sports are still banned in Riverside County, but this week, one legal team is working to change that.

“Looking at the law, it’s really a violation of the kids equal protection rights, and so we decided it’s worth putting it in front of a judge and let him or her decide if we’re right,” said attorney Stephen Gribney.

The lawsuit argues that young athletes aren’t at a greater risk of contracting coronavirus than adult athletes.

It was initially filed in San Diego with the non-profit Let Them Play, and a judge agreed.

The judge ruled that all youth and school sports can resume with specific safety protocols in San Diego.

“The court said yes, if you follow all of these excepted guidelines that were published by the state you may play safely. I was a little surprised the state didn’t put more in by way of opposition from a medical science standpoint, I’m not sure they could,” said Gribney.

To win their case, the law firm presented COVID transmission data to the judge, and plans to do the same thing in Riverside County.

Locally, Dr. Euthym Kontaxis with Eisnehower Health agrees with their position.

“Transmission among youth is much less than adults, 10 percent of cases are between the ages of 5 and 17. I think with good information and careful observation we can do it,” said Dr. Kontaxis.   

Daily case rates and hospitalizations also continue to drop in Riverside County, but some parents have expressed concerns over high-contact sports like rugby and football.

The state’s guidelines require those athletes to get tested weekly, along with other safety measures.

“Making sure we do the proper social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing, respiratory etiquette,” said Dr. Kontaxis.

Now the Let Them Play team hopes this lawsuit will spark a statewide movement.

“All we want is youth sports back safely and immediately. It’s time for these restrictions to go, let’s have a conversation so we can get a win, win here,” said Brad Hensley with Let Them Play.

You can find more information about the Let Them Play team here.


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