With reopening plans for schools and businesses hitting a snag due to a recent surge in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, the California Interscholastic Federation announced Tuesday that state health officials will likely not release updated youth sports guidelines until after Jan. 1, postponing any education-based practices and competition scheduled for December.
“We believed that if we allowed the maximum amount of time possible to gain control of the situation, we could deliver to our student-athletes what we all want for them and give them what they deserve,” CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod said in a statement. “Since July, there clearly has not been any progress made toward gaining control of the pandemic. In fact, it has gotten worse, and here is where we are.”
CIF, the governing body for prep athletics in California, also announced the cancellation of regional and state championships for the fall season, which means no state competition for football, cross-country, volleyball and water polo. The move gives teams an opportunity to participate in a longer regular season.
A two-season format developed in July would have allowed the boys’ volleyball season to begin on Dec. 12 and football teams to get back on the field to practice two days later.
The only change to the calendar involves moving the boys’ volleyball season to the spring season. Schedules for Southern Section championships remain in place, and Wigod said his agency will “have a better sense of the overall situation” by Jan. 19.
The state’s guidance on youth sports hasn’t been updated since Aug. 3, making it difficult for CIF to develop a clear path to move forward. The new guidelines were supposed to be announced last month but were delayed by state officials two weeks ago.
According to Wigod, CIF has been working with the California Department of Public Health since October in developing plans for each tier — based on positivity rate and adjusted case rate — of the state’s reopening plan.
“The centerpiece of our proposal was an attempt to incorporate the four-colored-tier system — purple, red, orange and yellow — that is applied to each of California’s 58 counties, and directly connect those color designations to high school sports,” Wigod said.
In his update, Wigod also mentioned that the Southern Section could face revenue losses of $600,000-$700,000 if there are no sports championships this academic year.