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This website is under construction. Also see Twitter: @LetThemPlayH2O

We are a group of athletes and parents who can no longer sit back and allow the California health bureaucracy to falsely categorize water polo and other youth sports. We have a sense of urgency because immediate advocacy is required. The football community recognized this months ago, launching Let Them Play, advocating for all sports. They are a grassroots inspiration. Their sport-specific science is based on football. Governor Newsom recognizes this, saying, “I’ll be honest with you, a lot of this is driven by football with folks wanting to get a football season in.” Let Them Play deserves enormous credit for its efforts to date.

The mission of Let Them Play Water Polo is to ensure water polo is scientifically considered while reinforcing the drive to correct all California youth sports policy.

Among California’s sports, water polo is unique. California has more water polo players than the other 49 states combined. It is home to every U.S. national team, from age groupers to Olympians. California’s ban has national impact, and is specifically devastating to this sport. If we do not act as a community, there will no Junior Olympics in California, there will be no 2021-2022 seasons, and our entire club-school-pool ecosystem will be at risk.

Senior Advisor: Tony Azevedo, 5-time U.S. Olympian

Advisor Team: Guy Baker, 3-time U.S. Olympic coach; Peter Hudnut, 2-time Olympian; Claire Eusey (Youth Athlete Advisor); Sacred Heart Prep Boys 2022 (Youth Athlete Advisors)

Our Advisor Team will be finalized by mid-February. This is a community effort. We seek the broadest possible perspective distilled to a few core principles. We need not only your support but also your input.

The Problem

California’s color-coded Blueprint for a Safer Economy is effective as a communication and control tool for the economy. It has been a disaster for athletes. Sports were jammed into the model as an afterthought. As a result of dithering, the entire Fall season was lost before guidance was issued. The result was a total mischaracterization of risk. Because there were four color codes, sports were placed into four buckets. This effectively banned youth sports in California.

The hurdle to return to play is enormous. California’s requirements to play are about 500% higher than in fellow blue state Connecticut, for example, where water polo is played indoors in small pools. Water polo was relegated to “risky” Orange in California. It will only be permitted when daily COVID case rates fall below 4 per 100,000 residents. This is about ten times smaller than nationwide flu rates in wintertime.

The Catch-22 worsens for youth athletes. Youth are last in line to receive the vaccine because the flu is far more risky than COVID for those under 19. On the one hand they are told they are not at risk. On the other hand, sports have been taken away from them because they are too risky. Youth athletics will be increasingly seen as superspreader events when media focus shifts to vaccinations.

Compounding the problem, counties are permitted to impose additional arbitrary restrictions on sports. Santa Clara County, for example, exiled the 49ers and several Stanford teams by unilaterally imposing restrictions well beyond neighboring counties.

The Solution

First, California sports must be immediately removed from the color-coded economic blueprint and de-linked from uncorrelated case and positivity rates. As the medical advisors to the nation’s largest high school sports adjudicator, the National Federation of High School Sports Associations, reported on 2 February, 2021, it is faulty reasoning to categorize sports and link them to COVID case rates. COVID is very rarely transmitted during games. In some sports, like water polo, a transmission has yet to be reported. The way to mitigate health risk is for each sport to design best practices on operations (e.g. travel rules and locker room bans) and social derivatives of games (e.g. spectator rules). The ignored side of health is the athlete’s mental hopelessness and physical deterioration. Today, athlete health has no meaningful weight on the scales of injustice.

The Governor requires a political solution in addition to science. Other states have discarded color-coded, case-based models in favor of hospital capacity triggers. In these states, sports are permitted in most scenarios but paused in the event of stay-at-home orders. Governor Newsom made a similar decision in lifting California’s curfew in late January, based on hospital capacity loosening.

Second, the governor must insure that county health bureaucrats cannot impose their own arbitrary restrictions on top of those issued by the state. Counties are not more qualified to act as a higher court. What is happening in Santa Clara is the manifestation of bureaucratic power mocking science.

For more on the evidence, please see our publications (above).