Youth sports community angered as new health measures pause children’s activities

Many in the youth sports community believe stopping sports won't stop the spread of the virus.

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Members of the youth sports community are speaking out after the health department’s new temporary measures, which took effect today, force all indoor youth sports to stop until December 7.

One of those voicing their opinion is Tonia Tauke, owner of Nebraska ONE – a club volleyball facility that provides private or group lessons and classes for volleyball players of all ages.

On Saturday, Tauke posted a five minute video on her Facebook page explaining how she felt the directed health measures won’t bring about change, mostly because she believes few cases are linked to businesses like hers.

“I am 100% on board with doing any sacrifice that I have to do, but, I will not do that by sitting back and watching every other business be able to be in business,” Tauke says in the video, which was shared over 250 times.

On Monday, Tauke told Channel 8 Eyewitness News that she believes it’s unfair for businesses like hers to close when others are hardly facing restrictions.

Right now, the only businesses or activities in Lincoln that are required to be completely closed are party buses, peddle pubs and youth sports.

“I think for kids to be singled out, youth sports to be singled out – not adult sports, not adult activities, not bars and restaurants, not mani/pedis, not anything else to be shut down or even considered to be restricted, I mean, I think the youth sports community is asking for equality. We’re either in this together and lets do this or restrict us,” Tauke says.

According to the COVID-19 dashboard for Lancaster County, 17% of  cases are among those aged 0 to 19. However, 0% of that age group accounts for any of the deaths here. 

Tauke says she believes shutting down youth sports isn’t where the city will see significant improvement in our numbers. 

“This shut down can’t stop the spread because we aren’t the ones that are spreading it,” she says. “You cannot play volleyball in a 12,000 square foot facility, but you can go to school with 20 kids in a 30×30 room with one, two or three teachers.”

Recognizing the frustrations from the youth sports community, on Monday evening, Mayor Gaylor Baird tweeted that the health department had identified ‘clusters of cases associated with youth sports.

The mayor continued, saying that since sports have moved inside due to the winter season, risk of spread has also increased.

However, Tauke’s argument remains. She hopes her message comes across clearly, and says she means no disrespect to those in our community suffering from or fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. As a team player, Tauke says she wants to contribute to stopping the spread of COVID-19, but right now she feels only a select few are being held responsible.

“All I’m asking for is an equality of restrictions where I feel like I’m part of the team to help the healthcare workers and hospitals maintain a level of sanity. I am 100% on board with helping with that, but, I feel like there are no other team members besides our businesses.”

Tauke says her next steps are to gather similar comments and concerns from those surrounding her in the volleyball and youth sports community and contact the health department in hopes of reconsideration.

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