Berkeley County soccer players await judge’s ruling in lawsuit

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BERKELEY COUNTY, W. Va. (WDVM) – A hearing was held in Berkeley County’s circuit court on Wednesday for Beck vs. WVSSAC (West Virginia Secondary Schools Commission), which petitions that the West Virginia state soccer tournament be postponed until a fair amount of free public testing can be made available in Berkeley county, compared to the testing that was made available in other counties in the state, or until the WVSSAC can adjust it’s criteria for participation that would account for the lack of testing made available in Berkeley County which is currently Orange.

Some background: because Berkeley County has been orange for the past two weeks, soccer teams in the county have missed out on the sectional and regional tournaments, and by default, Jefferson High School was named the winner to represent the section in the state tournament.

The plaintiff argued that the color map does not take into account lack of free public testing which skews the county numbers of infection rate vs. percent positive.

The respondent argued that the lack of testing in Berkeley County was a matter of the Department of Health, and that the plaintiff should have included the appropriate parties in the petition to discuss such a matter.

However, although the plaintiff is aware that playing high school sports is not a constitutional right, the WVSSAC determines who is allowed to participate based on certain criteria which the plaintiff argues violates Article III, Section 10 under the West Virginia Constitution which guarantees equal protection of the law.

To that, the respondent argued that in this unprecedented time, they are inclined to follow the regulations set by the Department of Health.

But the WVSSAC made adjustments for other sports, such a cross country and golf, that were in orange at the time of their postseason, giving those athletes permission to compete if they got tested and they tested negative.

The plaintiff wanted to know why that same option of getting tested isn’t being extended to the soccer teams of Berkeley county, to which the respondent said, that based upon analysis, is was determined that those [cross country and golf] were considered low risk [of spreading] sports.

The plaintiff made the court aware of the infection rate numbers in Raliegh County, which is where the state tournament is to be held, making a point that the infection rate is higher in Raliegh County than in Berkeley, meaning that the Berkeley County athletes would actually be put more at risk going to Raleigh County to compete, than the idea of Berkeley County athletes coming in and putting people in Raleigh County at risk since the Berkeley County infection rate is lower.

The WVSSAC argued that it is not in the public interest to delay the state tournament and that doing so would result in $20,000 in losses which the governing body would ask that the plaintiff pay in bond if granted an injunction.

Judge Steven Redding resided over the hearing today and implied that there would be a ruling by end of day Wednesday.

There is no update at this time. We will update this article once more information becomes available.

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