long anticipated 2020-21 high school sports season set to begin Monday,
the California Interscholastic Federation announced Tuesday that
competition — including football practice — is on hold until the after
New Year's at the earliest.
The surge in
COVID-19 infections also contributed the delay of a new Season 1, which
was supposed to begin the first week of January. Practice for some of
those sports — football, cross country, girls volleyball and water polo —
were to begin in six days — but now won't begin until at least Jan. 1.
CIF also announced Tuesday the cancellation of all regional and state
championships in Season 1 to allow "more student-athletes ... the
opportunity to participate in a longer season."
CIF has been waiting on Youth Sports Guidelines from the state
Department of Health, which was prepared to release them in
mid-November. However, the release was delayed as the surge forced Gov.
Gavin Newsom to reclassify the majority of the state's 58 counties into
the most restrictive purple tier.
is one of 15 states that moved its fall sports season to 2021. The
plan, announced on July 20, split the sports into two "seasons," instead
of three, with
varying start and playoff dates.
in the new Season 1 is
football, volleyball and cross country among others. Season 2 includes
soccer, wrestling, basketball, baseball and softball among
With football requiring at least 14 days of practice before a game, many
nonleague contests already scheduled in early January, including the
much anticipated 2019 CIF Open Division championship rematch between De La Salle (Concord)
and 2019 MaxPreps national champion St. John Bosco (Bellflower)
, will probably be postponed or canceled.
De La Salle coach Justin Alumbaugh remains optimistic, if not pliable.
"If nothing else, everyone through this pandemic has learned to be very, very flexible right now," he said.
said he wasn't surprised by Tuesday's announcement. That's why he's not
ruling out a De La Salle-Bosco contest sometime this winter or spring.
"There are still a lot of moving parts,"
Alumbaugh said. "(Bosco) coach (Jason) Negro and I were aware of this
contingency. We will definitely be in touch to get our game in somehow."
Pushing back Season 1 doesn't cancel it,
but how much further can it be pushed? And the further it falls
into spring only seems to present more potential problems with a crossover
into Season 2.
"I would love to offer all
seasons to all kids," Central Coast Section commissioner Dave Grissom
said. "But there does come a time when you have to make a harder
decision on what to do with Season 1 and Season 2, but I don't think
we're there right now. We can push it back a little and still be OK."
Grissom is well away that delays from practice and competition is frustrating to all parties, including players and parents. His son Connor is a senior football and baseball player at Del Mar (San Jose).
"The season will be truncated which isn't great, but it's better than not having a season at all," Grissom said.
season overlap isn't the worst thing, Alumbaugh said. He noted that
other states have gotten through seasons, albeit with "hiccups." As of
last week, 15 states completed football seasons in the fall though at
least three stopped short of state title games due to rising COVID-19
cases and health department orders.
are answers out there," Alumbaugh said. "Everything is possible. I'm
not naive, California is so much bigger than most states. There's so
much more to consider.
"But we can't say
'it can't be done.' Or 'it's not possible.' At this point if football
and baseball had to be played at the same time, who cares? If you had a
kid go from a half a football practice to a baseball game, OK. Have at
it. Go play. Why not? The idea that we can't overlap seasons is off the
table. We need to continue to be flexible."
Alumbaugh isn't pushing for a return at the cost of safety, nor is he preparing for another trophy celebration. He said his program has followed every protocol by the book since allowed back to conditioning in June and will continue to do so. Alumbaugh said he and the coaching community are acting as advocates for youth, their happiness and safety, mental and physical.
"We as coaches and administrators, trust me, we're taking the virus incredibly seriously," Alumbaugh said. "I don't like the misnomer that we're trying to push for a state championship. That's the furthest thing from my mind. That would be asinine. We're trying to get kids outside and healthy. The most important thing it to get them away from the computer, being outdoors with their friends."
In its statement, the CIF said it hopes for a safe, speedy and healthy return to respective playing fields as well for its 800,000 student-athletes. Its been since nearly nine months since a CIF event has been played.
CIF is confident this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for
our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities in light
of the current statewide crisis," the release closed. Tuesday's
revisions to Season 1 "offers our sections and leagues the flexibility
and needed time to plan for the return to practice and competition once
updated guidance is provided by the CDPH."
key is getting those new guidelines. The last ones came on Aug. 3 and
offered a return to conditioning, which all athletes and teams are still
allowed to do as long as social distancing is maintained. But until
"return to competition" guidelines are communicated, high school sports
in California will remain on hold.
governor has signed new guidelines but they have been placed on pause,
so that's where we are," Grissom said. "Any county, regardless of
(color-coated tiers), can't even begin practice until the newest
guidelines are dropped. We're all still circling the runway and asking
for clearance to land."