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Baseball ‘Scrimmage' Played by Out-of-Town Teams Underscores Frustration Over Youth Sports Restrictions

NBC San Diego logo NBC San Diego 10/20/2020 Artie Ojeda
© Provided by NBC San Diego

A baseball game played on Sunday morning at a neighborhood park in San Diego's Rolando neighborhood may have potentially violated state public health orders restricting youth sports. Currently, teams are only allowed to participate in drills and not competition.

The Sunday game at Clay Neighborhood Park did not involve any teams from San Diego.

“We were playing a scrimmage game. There were no umpires. It was non-sanctioned,” said Ruben Corral, Program Director of the Lifeletics Academy Dodgers Baseball Club based in Huntington Beach.

According to the club’s web page, the players were on the 12-year-old and under team. Corral said he did not know the team his club was playing against and said he did not know who organized the games.

A San Diego County spokesperson would not comment on the legality of the game after seeing video provided by NBC 7.

All of the players were wearing face masks, as did parents, who were socially distanced as they watched the game.

“I feel everyone is following the rules. We were outdoors. We have masks,” said Corral, who said he played in San Diego because there are no fields available in Huntington Beach.

The game underscores the frustration among parents being forced to play competitive games out of state.

“I’m not surprised that some of these are now turning into competitive scrimmages slash games, just because they’re trying get the kids playing games,” said Marty Richardson, President of Rolando Little League.

Richardson had nothing to do with Sunday’s scrimmage, but said he’s turned down offers to play in the scrimmages because they could potentially violate state health orders.

Meanwhile, some frustrated parents are being forced to make costly trips to Arizona and Nevada where there are no restrictions on competitive play.

“We’re allowing our kids to travel to different states to play. We obviously would much rather play in California, in our home state if we could. It’s frustrating that we have to travel five, six, hours away just so our kids can play competitively,” said Penny McGee, who’s daughter plays competitive softball.

McGee said her family recently made a trip to Nevada, which cost about $600.

Other parents feel it’s time for California to allow competitive youth sports, in part, to help the well-being of the young participants.

“The kids start losing hope, they start losing the drive to play. I can’t express how beneficial it is for the kids to have this playing time,” said Joshua Teague, former Vice President of Rolando Little League.

“Allow the kids to get back to playing sports. Other states are doing it, and they’re fine. We haven’t seen an uptick in numbers, they’re doing it safely. We can do it here in California,” said McGee.

Corral from the Huntington Beach clubs said the kids are being used as political pawns.

“It’s embarrassing to have to go out of state when we have all these fields here,” said Corral.

It’s not known how many teams have actually travelled out of state to play competitively. A spokesperson for San Diego county says there have been about a dozen positive Covid cases connected to teams travelling to Arizona for competitive play. The cases, however, do not meet the county standard for an outbreak. Only one team has two positive cases.

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