Governor Ron DeSantis announced in a press conference Friday morning he is lifting restrictions on youth sports and summer camps in the state of Florida. The decision is effective immediately despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“We believe that this makes sense based on the data and observed experience,” DeSantis said. “We are not going to be instituting a lot of rules, or really, any rules. At the end of the day, we trust the parents to be able to make decisions in conjunction with physicians.”
But the decision doesn’t apply to high school athletics. That is something that will be decided by individual school districts, according to the Florida High School Athletic Association.
Navarre head coach Jay Walls is still hopeful the football team will be able to start up its summer workouts on June 8. But he hasn’t heard yet if that will happen.
“That’s a tentative date but we don’t know for sure. We do know that when we do return, that we will follow the guidelines in place. We’re going to be cautious and safe with everything.”
Meanwhile, for youth organizations and locations that host camps, many are still working on plans for activities and camps in the wake of the governor’s decision.
The Navarre Youth Sports Association is using the next few days to come up with a plan.
It canceled its spring sports season earlier this month but is evaluating how to proceed with summer sports.
“The intention is, if possible, we will resume summer sports,” NYSA president Paul Villanova said in an email.
The Pullum Family YMCA had people reaching out Friday about summer camps and swimming. However, it needs a few days to work out a plan regarding summer.
The Gulf Coast Council of the Boy Scouts of America already canceled its summer camps earlier this month but is working on a virtual summer camp plan. That information will be released to the scout troops once it is finalized.
But Jim Boska, the program director for the council, said the potential for units to get together again could be on the horizon at some point this summer.
“We’re following the guidelines of the phases,” Boska said. “When the state gets to phase two, we’ll start looking at units getting together and even going camping,” Boska said.
The Navarre Xpress Track Club, which gives young athletes a chance to compete in the summer at various meets, has already canceled its meets for the summer and there are no plans for practices despite the decision by the governor.
“I don’t plan on bringing the kids back this summer,” said club founder and coach Antenney Hemingway. “If an opportunity comes up, we may run. But I do plan on having an indoor season in the winter.”
It’s ultimately up to local governments to decide what the best approach is for moving youth sports forward. DeSantis, though, didn’t want to overwhelm them with a long list of rules.
“I just think that I’ve seen other jurisdictions, other states, do like 100 rules for like, how to pick up a tennis ball and all this and…when you do that and you over cook it, you end up getting less compliance with it because people just throw up their hands and say ‘this is ridiculous,’” DeSantis said.
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