Skip to main content
Publish date:

Parents file federal lawsuit against Gov. Walz over pause on youth sports

Let Them Play MN filed the lawsuit on behalf of several unnamed youth players and coaches.

A group of parents filed a lawsuit Thursday against Gov. Tim Walz's latest pause on youth and high school sports, saying it is "not based on data or science."

The nonprofit Let Them Play, which was started by parents has more than 23,000 Facebook members, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Thursday in their latest push to get kids back into sports, saying the ban on youth sports "unfairly singles out young people for harm even though state officials are aware the decision lacks support in sound science or common sense."

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of five unnamed youth athletes and two unnamed coaches, names Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Commissioner Jan Malcolm, MDH's Alice Roberts-Davis and the Minnesota Department of Administration as defendants. 

Gov. Walz ordered a four-week "pause" on youth sports and restrictions on other businesses from Nov. 21 through Dec. 18. He's expected to announce a decision on whether he'll extend the "pause" on Monday. One adjustment that could be made next week is with regards to youth sports, with Walz saying on Tuesday that "it's the one we're trying to figure out."

The lawsuit argues that MDH's data show youth sports don't spread COVID-19 (see the state's data below) and takes issue with the term "outbreak," which is used ambiguously to justify the ban on youth sports while allowing college and professional sports to continue. 

In addition, the lawsuit alleges Walz's executive order prohibits people from protesting the order, saying "It is not without a certain irony that the same executive order that irrationally bars youth sports also prohibits collective action by those who would dissent," saying the order is in violation of First Amendment freedoms because the governor is attempting to prohibit people who disagree with his decisions from congregating together. 

The current executive order does prohibit gatherings of people from different households even if social distancing can be maintained, but does say "Nothing in this executive order is intended to encourage or allow law enforcement to transgress individual constitutional rights."

Bring Me The News has reached out to the governor's and attorney general's offices for comment. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

1,225 cases linked to sports

As of Dec. 3, the Minnesota Department of Health data show 308 COVID-19 outbreaks and 1,225 cases have been linked to sports in Minnesota. As of Dec. 3, the state had 333,626 total lab-confirmed cases of COVID-19.

That being said, Commissioner Malcolm has said the case numbers connected to youth sports and other social settings are "a very significant undercount."

The figures MDH releases refer to the "primary" infections that can be attributed to a specific setting. It does not consider "second- and third-effect infections" that occurs when someone gives the virus to somebody else, which can happen unknowingly if they are asymptomatic.

By the time it reaches the fourth-generation of transmission, one case can lead to as many as 70 other positive cases when community spread is as widespread as it has been in Minnesota, state officials said in November when announcing the four-week pause on youth sports and tightened restrictions on some businesses. 

State officials have said case numbers linked to youth sports and other social settings can be difficult to track because of uncontrolled "community transmission," where a person's diagnosis can't be attributed to a single source of infection.

With regards to the pause on youth sports but not college or professional sport, Walz said that this was the result of a "great inequity ... and like so many things it comes with money."

"They're testing every single person, we're not testing every single high school athlete, we're not keeping them in a pod close together, we're not keeping the coaches all working together and testing 2-3 times a day, The ability to control this and the mitigation efforts they put in place is vastly different," he said.

Next Up

u.s. attorney

Guilty plea from man who stockpiled guns, equipment to make bombs, drugs

Prosecutors say he had multiple guns, items to make weapons and pipe bombs, and lab equipment to make drugs.

polaris Ranger XP Kinetic

Here is Polaris' new electric Ranger off-road vehicle

The Minnesota-based company unveiled the electric UTV on Wednesday.

MNWOSO_Aurora

MN women's soccer team narrows name, logo options to final 3

The winning nickname and logo will be announced in January.

Kirill Kaprizov

2nd period surge leads Wild to fourth straight win

With three goals in the second, the Wild blasted the last-place Coyotes.

Gopher Basketball / R.J. Stephens

Late-tip in helps Gophers pass first big test, improve to 6-0

Luke Loewe's bucket with 2.4 seconds remaining helped the Gophers stay undefeated.

ambulance

Man, 40, found dead stuck in air duct at his Otter Tail Co. home

The discovery was made by family members Monday morning.

Biden Minnesota visit stream screengrab - 11.30.31

What Biden said during his visit to Minnesota Tuesday

The president spoke at Dakota County Technical College.

Grand Marais

Cook County registers its first COVID-19 death of the pandemic

The sparsely populated, highly-vaccinated county has continuously had one of the lowest rates of COVID in the state.

Waits family screengrab CNN

Support for MN family after anti-maskers target child of school board chair

An online group opposing Kelsey Waits outed the child as transgender.

Pixabay - school - classroom

St. Paul schools add 2 days to winter break due to pandemic stress

The added days off are meant to acknowledge the stress the pandemic has caused.

Related

basketball

Let Them Play MN sues Walz over youth sports mask mandate

The CDC says masks may make it hard to breathe in high-intensity sports.

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 2.58.26 PM

Gov. Walz will provide COVID-19 update at Monday press conference

He'll talk about the state's response to the pandemic.

hockey rink ice arena

Masks required: Youth, high school sports games can begin Jan. 14

Additional guidance on games and spectators is forthcoming.

Governor Tim Walz

Gov. Walz offers pathway to 'wind-down' his emergency powers

"I recognize our shared interest in finding a pathway ... to ensure an orderly end of the peacetime emergency when it is no longer needed," Walz writes.

softball

Youth sports games can resume outdoors next week, indoors in July

The latest guidance issued by the Minnesota Department of Health came out Friday afternoon.