Local high school sports teams won't be competing until at least December or January, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced Monday.
"We are continuously monitoring the directives and guidelines released from the Governor's Office, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and local county health departments and agencies as these directives and guidelines are followed by our member schools/school districts with student health and safety at the forefront," the governing body for high school sports in California said in a press release.
The California Interscholastic Federation released a modified season that pushes section playoffs for several sports, including football, water polo, basketball and baseball, into spring and summer of 2021.
Given the changes, the CIF will temporarily allow student athletes to participate on outside teams at the same time as their high school teams.
The CIF's announcement leaves it up to each section to set their regular-season schedules for multiple sports. The Central Coast Section (CCS) executive committee, which administers sports from San Francisco to King City, voted and released its plan on Tuesday. Under the schedule, no local sports seasons will start until December. Cross country, field hockey, football, water polo and volleyball teams can begin practicing on Dec. 14, while spring sports including tennis and basketball will start in February and March. Gymnastics and competitive cheer seasons are listed as to be determined at this point.
The committee faced numerous decisions, including whether it should forego regional tournaments, said Commissioner David Grissom, who expected the 10-member group to set schedules that will largely fall in line with the CIF's sports calendar.
"What the state put out basically was a reduction of seasons from three to two," said Grissom, the former principal of Mountain View High School. While the state's schedule allows for full seasons of competition, a student who plays in two sports will see their seasons compete with one another.
"Student-athletes are going to have to make choices where they didn't have to make decisions (in the past)," Grissom said.
Palo Alto Unified Superintendent Don Austin said the delay of high school sports "disappointing" but understandable.
"I understand and support the decision to delay athletics and hope our conditions allow for seasons beginning in December," he said.
Austin pointed to outdoor conditioning drills happening this summer with small groups of student-athletes and numerous safety precautions, which he said "showed us that people can create and follow plans that promote health and safety. I will point to their efforts when it is time to reopen our schools."
CIF's changes are in effect for the 2020-21 school year only. If public health and education guidelines change, however, local high schools can allow for athletic activity to potentially resume, the organization said.
Grissom planned to suggest switching gymnastics from the fall, its current category under the CIF schedule, to the spring in the CCS based on feedback from people in the sport and public health orders preventing student-athletes from practicing at gyms. Also, the Central Coast and San Diego sections are the only ones across the state that offer gymnastics, which doesn't have a state tournament. (The plan approved Tuesday designates gymnastics as a Season 2 sport.)
Another question that faced the CCS Executive Committee was whether to extend the end of the summer season, which allows student-athletes to participate in conditioning training, from this Friday, July 24, to December. At Tuesday's meeting, the committee chose to extend the summer period to Dec. 12.
With the CCS regular season schedules released, schools will need to scramble to complete their sports schedules for the year, Grissom said. They also face pressure over which teams will be able to use a facility at a given time.
"No matter how you slice the pie, when you have two seasons and one stadium, then you've got competing interests to get on the playing field," he said.
Read the full CIF statement here:
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