Student-athletes ask California governor to return to sports

More than 100 student-athletes and coaches asked California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday to "level the playing field" and let them go back to the sports they love.

The group called "Let them Play" said youth sports have resumed in almost all other states.

They delivered 10,000 personal letters and petition signatures at the state Capitol, asking to let them get back to training and competing.

The group said they have medical reports showing it is safe to resume sports programs. However, a UC Berkeley infectious disease specialist said otherwise.

Dr. John Swartzberg said the COVID infection rate is still too high for close contact sports.

"You have people breathing heavily within very close proximity of each other. So the potential for transmission is great," he said.

"It can be done safely. As long as everyone is tested before getting here. We continue to check temperatures and sanitize," said Coach George Jackson.

KTVU caught up with Jackson upon his return to the Bay Area from Sacramento. He looked at the empty Richmond High School football field and wished he was seeing something else.

"I would love to see students, student-athletes running up and down the field with smiles on their faces. It's heartbreaking for a lot of them," Jackson said. 

The student athlete group argued the ban on sports hurts them mentally and physically and also hurts their chances for scholarships.

"This is about students and student-athletes not getting to do what we love. This is about government officials not doing the right thing," said Zelbee Radar, a student volleyball player. 

Newsom has said he knows time is tight. California does allow student-athletes to participate in conditioning.

Non-contact sports such as track and tennis are allowed.

The California Interscholastic Federation announced this week it will allow athletes to compete in multiple sports simultaneously, except football, as long as school districts and county health departments approve. 

"We are not going to stop. We are full speed ahead. And until you guys are wearing pads or bouncing a basketball we are not going to stop," said Serra football coach Patrick Walsh.

The coaches say they are hoping Newsom makes some announcement at least by the end of next week.