With more than just a passing interest on the topic — and having spent many weekends in August attending the Surf Cup Invitational over the past decade — I noted with some interest the events of the past week with the County of San Diego issuing a “Cease & Desist Order” to the San Diego Surf Soccer Club for alleged violations by the club of the County’s “return to play” rules.
The State of California has created a series of “tiers” for classifying counties on the basis of the current public health threat posed by COVID-19. Commercial and recreational activities that are permitted in a given county depends on the current “tier” that the county is classified as, with “Tier I” being the most restrictive, with the current COVID pandemic situation described as “widespread”. Currently, 52 out of 58 counties in California remain classified as “Tier 1 – Widespead”, with the most severe restrictions still in place with regard to personal and commercial freedoms.
But even with that classification, the authorities have had to begin to bend to public will when it comes to certain activities. One area is in youth sports, where authorities have given into the reality that youth team sports which take place outdoors cannot be effectively controlled in terms of prohibiting them, so they have issued guidelines for “practice” activities that limit the number of participants, while continuing to enforce a “ban” on competitions between teams.
California has allowed youth soccer clubs to practice while adhering to guidelines such as “face coverings to be worn when not participating in the activity (e.g., on the sidelines)” but has not allowed games between different teams at the youth or high school levels.
January was one of the worst months on record for San Diego County in terms of new COVID cases and the postivitity test rate. It ranks second worst in California out of 58 counties in those two metrics over the past seven days. San Diego County health officials claim they have had several conversations with representatives of the Surf Soccer Club over what activities are allowed and what activities are not allowed under the COVID restrictions in place due to the County’s status, yet the County claims that the Surf Club has been observed to be violating those restrictions on multiple occasions.
Surf Soccer Club has a large practice facility that it owns on the grounds of what used to be the Del Mar Polo Fields not far from the Del Mar Race Track in northern San Diego County. County Health officials have been visiting the facility and documenting instances of non-compliance with the restrictions on youth sports activity — including the staging of “inter-team” matches by the Surf Club at its training facility.
On February 17, 2021, the Surf Club received the official “Cease & Desist Order” from the County, threatening them with fines of up to $1000 per day for future violations.
Pursuant to the Order of the California Public Health Officer issued on August 28, 2020… youth and adult recreational sports may operate in compliance with applicable industry guidance. COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Youth and Adult Recreational Sports, published by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and CalOSHA, states Interteam competitions (i.e., between two teams) are not allowed based on the County’s current Tier 1 status.
It has been documented that Inter-team competitions and scrimmages are occurring at 14989 Via De La Valle, Del Mar, CA 92014. Surf Cup Soccer is in violation of the Order of the State Health Officer and the County Order of the Health Officer and Emergency Regulations.
I appreciate the impact these restrictions have on your organization. However, as the responsible party for your organization, it is your duty to ensure that the Orders’ are complied with. If you do not comply, we will take actions necessary to enforce the Orders. Failure to comply may result in criminal misdemeanor citations with a $1,000 fine for each violation.
The Surf Club posted its response to the Order on Twitter and Facebook:
San Diego County officials taped a Cease & Desist order to our front door this morning. This is our response which we sent earlier today. #LetThemPlay #LetThemPlayCA #ReturnToPlay pic.twitter.com/VBNyw0DHdj
— Surf Soccer Club (@SurfSoccerClub) February 19, 2021
An interesting angle to the response is the “NIBMY” claim. The location of the Surf facilities is someone stunning when you are there. The club has hundreds of players, and the traffic relating to parents coming and going from the site can be aggravating at times.
In addition, the club hosts several tournaments each year at the location — the annual Surf Cup in August — staged over two weekend — is one of the most competitive “invitation” only tournaments for club soccer teams on the West Coast. On tournament weekends there are dozens of club teams with thousands of players at the facility for 12+ hours each day.
But the COVID issue, and the Club’s claims that youth and adult recreation sports are taking place throughout the county in violation of the state health guidelines — when combined with all the other types of commercial activity that seem to be taking place in defiance of the regulations — suggests that the dam might be about to give way in California.
Gavin Newsom has always been a fundamentally unserious person. He has not won election based on towering intellect, leadership skills, or success in business. He will need to defend himself in the recall by defending his record in locking down the state far beyond the time frame that other states were locked down — and those states that never went through a lockdown. The science and the facts have lapped him, and his justification are all seen now as nakedly political.
Californians are already registering their votes on the decisions by policy-makers in California, and their disregard is playing out every day in decisions such as the one made by the Surf Soccer Club.