TAMPA, Fla. – Some teenage soccer and cheerleading parents are urging Hillsborough County officials to get their sport back into full competition.
Hillsborough County’s youth sports are open for practice and conditioning only. For youth soccer and cheerleaders, this means contactless conditioning.
“We really don’t even want this to be a crazy political thing. We just want our kids to play and we want the county to know we are all doing the right thing. They just have to give us a choice,” said Hope Kennedy, Secretary of the North Tampa Titans, member of the Tri-County Youth Football and Cheerleading Conference.
“We follow our guidelines, we have COVID exemptions. We want families to have a choice of allowing their children to play and it’s just disappointing that they don’t have a choice,” said Charlene Linscott, a parent of the Brandon Broncos .
Parents said they may plan to gather in their individual areas over the weekend.
“I mean, they need the love, they need the support, they need the care that our trainers and all parents give each other’s children out here. It’s a family. These organizations are not just a group of people trying to win a trophy, “said Kennedy.
The county said it was working on plans to resume competition for a variety of sports, initially facing baseball and softball. Football is below.
“I understand the passion and I understand the urgency of everyone to return to some kind of normalcy. We’re excited to finally be talking about getting kids back on the field and getting back to some form of competition,” said Rick Valdez, Hillsborough County’s Park and Recreation Director, “We hope to have this discussion on football soon. When we met with our health advisors a few weeks ago they weren’t ready to have this conversation. So we have to respect that and try to re-examine this idea later in September. “
Valdez said it was about the nature of sport.
“When we talk about going back to competition. Baseball is more on the moderate risk side. Football, lacrosse is somewhere in the middle and football is the riskiest due to the nature of the sport as the kids compete against each other in every game, ”he said. “Really, that’s all, and we’re looking for every opportunity to get the kids back outside as soon as possible.”
He said they are looking at it from a “total communion” perspective.
“A lot has changed here recently when the school was re-announced. The announcement of high school sports is coming back and I understand people see that and say,” Well, you know very well everything else is coming back. Why can’t we go back to youth football and we really want to go back to youth football? “said Valdez. “And when our health professionals look at this from the standpoint of the community, they need to consider these new things that are being introduced into the community.”
Some parents believe that they can safely bring soccer and cheerleading back into contact and competition.
“Actual contact in a game is 15 to 20 seconds. Maybe then they’ll break off and be separated,” said Kennedy. “It feels like football is singled out from the other sports and it’s really no more dangerous than the others.”
“Allow us to open up the cheerleaders and at least allow them face masks so they can brake and I think the boys can take it on and they will be in their groups. We do temperature checks, let these kids play and hold together this security protocol, ”said Linscott.
Although the competition is not yet allowed, Valdez said they want to allow pre-packaged items to be sold, and acknowledges that youth organizations are struggling to generate revenue.