The sports seasons for more than 800,000 California high school athletes are on pause until December or January because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The decision by the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), which administers high school playoffs, was announced Monday and follows a summer surge in the virus that has caused most public and private schools in the state to start the academic year with online classes. The CIF’s 10 sections determine their starting and ending dates, according to the group.
“This is the best possible plan we have with what’s going on to give students an opportunity to participate,” Vicky Lagos, the Los Angeles City Section commissioner, said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “There are going to be issues in terms of facilities and multiple-sport athletes, but this is the best scenario for the most people. I have confidence the schools and coaches will work it out among themselves. My take from coaches is they want the opportunity to participate and be with the kids.”
High school football practice was originally scheduled to begin Aug. 3, with games following Aug. 21. Now, the last day for the football state championships will be April 17. Girls’ volleyball, cross-country, boys’ water polo, girls’ golf, girls’ tennis and field hockey also face delays.
Facilities were closed March 16, and principals and athletic directors are expected to meet with coaches this week to discuss how to use facilities with multi-sport athletes.
“I’ve been trying to make the best of the situation and control what I can control,” Chance Tucker, a defensive back at Encino’s Crespi High, told the Times.
“I feel everyone is going to need to adapt just as they did when this whole quarantine happened, and it’s really up to them to stay on top of [conditioning] themselves.”
Defensive end Korey Foreman, the nation’s top recruit, who plays for Centennial High in Corona, Calif., tweeted: “If they make me choose between my senior season or going to college . . . please believe i’m headed to my first camp . . . no questions asked.”
The Florida High School Athletic Association’s Board of Directors met virtually Monday and discussed the fall sports calendar. The number of coronavirus cases in Florida has risen rapidly since mid-June, and the state has emerged as an epicenter for the virus.
The board’s meeting lasted nearly five hours. Members discussed the start date for fall sports and how to allow for flexibility that maximizes athletes’ opportunities to compete.
A motion passed to maintain the current calendar, which allows football practices to begin July 27 as scheduled; to establish a date on which schools must declare if they intend to compete in the state series; and to establish that if schools choose not to participate in the state series, the FHSAA can help them schedule additional games through the end of the state series.
For instance, if a school could not play a football game until October, it could opt out of the state series and instead have the ability to continue playing regular season games through the end of the playoffs.
Lauren Otero, the FHSAA board president, said the cancellation of sports has “never been a topic of discussion” in conversations within the association’s Fall Sports Task Force.
Jennifer Maynard, who works for the Mayo Clinic and is the chair of the association’s Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, read the committee’s recommendations to the board, including delaying the start of the football and girls’ volleyball seasons until further notice. The committee deemed those sports to be high risk for the spread of the virus.
“We, right now, whether you want to realize it or not, are the epicenter of this whole thing in the world,” said Mark Schusterman, a member of the board and the co-athletic director at Riviera Preparatory School. “We are New York in April. And if we don’t take hold of this, and we allow these kids to go out there, and then they go into school and spread it into families, we will be the people responsible for that.”
To return to competition, the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s recommendations said, the following benchmarks should be met: a downward trajectory in number of cases or in the percentage of positive tests; a positivity rate of less than 5% for 28 days, using a seven-day average; and at least two weeks of practice before competition.
The committee’s report was approved as an informational item that could be incorporated into the following agenda item, which was the adoption of the Fall Sports Task Force’s proposal, which recommended three divisions for fall sports with staggered start dates for practices, the earliest of which was Aug. 10. The board voted unanimously to not adopt the proposal.
The board planned to have another meeting within a week to review the Sports Medicine Advisory Committee’s recommendations, with the possibility to adopt those and have other necessary discussions about fall sports.
The Georgia High School Association’s Board of Trustees met Monday and decided to delay the start of the football season by two weeks. The season that was scheduled to begin the week of Aug. 21 will now start the week of Sept. 4.
Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia have also delayed fall high school sports; New Mexico, Virginia, and the District of Columbia will not play football in the fall.