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Governor Murphy Sends Mixed Message on Youth Sports

JACKSON, NJ – This week, Jackson Township Mayor Michael Reina said his town would defy Governor Phil Murphy’s ban on recreational sports activities in his town parks and on Thursday, Governor Murphy said he has no problem with that.  As long as participants are following safe social distancing policies, Murphy said there’s no reason to panic or stop Reina’s plan.

“With respect to contact sports, Executive Order 133 gave municipalities and counties the ability to operate their parks if they so choose, but they have to still abide by the restrictions that are in that order with respect to state parks, one of which is you can’t have organized or contact sports,” said Chief Counsel Matt Platkin. “This has been communicated to the town and we will follow up if they have any questions.”

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“I thought you said they were not doing contact sports,” Murphy said. “Yeah, but just to clarify, fewer than 10 people can be in a space as long as they’re socially distancing.”

Chief Counsel Matt Platkin said the administrative order issued by Colonel Patrick Callahan says that you have a stay-at-home order in place, and there’s a gathering in it, up to 10 people are presumed to be in compliance unless there’s evidence to the contrary. The information the state received from the town was that they were considering doing recreational sports activities.”

“Let’s be clear about that. If it’s less than 10 and you’re social distancing, particularly if you’re outside, but frankly, even we said this the other day for private prayer, that’s okay, as long as you’ve got good hygiene, you’re social distancing, less than 10,” Murphy said.  “Sports is not okay.”

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Murphy’s statement clearly objects to organized sports and contact sports but said practice-related activities would be fine as proposed by the mayor as long as all of the social distancing and social gathering guidelines are adhered to.   As long as coaches can organize practices with 10 or less total participants and workouts can be conducted with proper social distancing, there’s no problem.

Later in the day, a spokesperson for Murphy’s administration said “No baseball” right now, according to a Star-Ledger interview.

“Governor Murphy understands the value of youth sports, and he eagerly anticipates the day that our young athletes can come together for sporting events once again,” the spokesperson said.

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