SAN ANTONIO – Bexar County leaders have expressed concerns about the continuation of large gatherings involving youth sports as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the area.
They have expressed their desire to have more local control to regulate these types of activities.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg has said at several daily briefings that youth sports gatherings are a problem.
“It is clear it is not a time to be conducting youth sport activity. There’s too much transmission going on,” Nirenberg said Friday.
The Texas Youth Football and Cheer Association started practice last week, after taking off the spring. President and CEO Brian Morgan said the organization has over 4,000 teams across the state. In Bexar County five of the 41 teams have decided to sit out the season. Many of them are younger children, he explains.
Safety protocols are in place, he said, to make it as safe as possible for kids in a very contact-oriented sport.
“We’re not just railing against the system. We know we wouldn’t do this if the thumbs up wasn’t there yet,” he said.
Masks are worn by volunteers at all times, a safety officer checks and logs temperatures for the teams, each child has their own water and social distancing is enforced.
“We’ve highly recommended that parents drop off their kids and remain in their cars,” Morgan said. “If they can’t remain in their cars because they want to keep an eye on their child on the field and when they’re around the field, to make sure that they keep proper distance from the other parents.”
Once teams start playing in mid-September, he said those on the bleachers will be required to wear masks.
TYFA is one of the largest youth sports team organizations in the state with kids, ages ranging from 3 to 11 years old, he said. Morgan said no one from Bexar County has reached out to them about their concerns with youth sports, but they’d be willing to listen.
“If it does get worse, you know, we’ll have a hard decision to make, but it won’t be that hard when it concerns the safety of the children,” he said.
Mike and Cindy Martinez with Cheer-riffic Techniques in Leon Valley said the number of athletes participating this year has dropped more than double from their usual 350 or so. He said they’re following state, county, city and even school district guidelines to ensure the safety of their kids.
“We have chosen to be safe,” said Cindy. “But we also know that a lot of the schools at this point mandated their cheerleaders not go to practice.”
Cleaning equipment, masks and social distancing are part of their protocol. Some students take part in Zoom classes, in-person classes are limited to eight students and there’s no touching or stunts being done or taught.
Mike said he’s informed his city leader about the safety protocols that he’s taken, but no one from the county has reached out to them about concerns.
“If we felt that we could not do things safely enough, we would not. We all just wouldn’t do it,” Mike said.