With fall sports soon coming to a close under the California Interscholastic Federation’s revised calendar, the question now is whether the second season of athletics will have a postseason.
Los Angeles County updated its Reopening Protocol for Youth and Adult Sports Leagues to align with the California Department of Public Health’s guidelines, which permits indoor sports such as basketball and volleyball to resume practice and competition inside a gymnasium. Doors must remain open during activities and no spectators are allowed. Each school must test players and coaches weekly for COVID-19.
The CIF Southern Section — the largest section in the state — has not made the decision to cancel playoffs for spring sports, but Commissioner Rob Wigod said an announcement about the status of section championships will be made no later than April 13.
According to a statement from CIF, viable league play and travel restrictions will heavily influence their decision.
Wigod said there is a “strong possibility” that championships for outdoor sports such as swimming, baseball and softball can be accomplished. The same could not be said for indoor sports such as basketball, but Wigod hopes “the [COVID-19] situation will improve in the time ahead and allow for those sports to compete league play.”
The most important factor in CIF’s decision involves travel restrictions set by public health officials. Though a steep decline in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations throughout the state have allowed counties to reopen schools and businesses, restrictions on travel remain, which could present a problem to a Southern Section that includes public and private schools from eight counties. Each county has different public health guidelines, and it is unknown if teams will be allowed to travel beyond adjoining counties for postseason competition.
It can also be a problem for CIF when it comes to hosting events for individual sports such as track and field and swimming.
“Will a local health authority in a particular county approve a Southern Section championship event, which would include student-athletes and coaches from all eight counties within the Southern Section, travelling to one location for that championship? … The questions regarding team sports and individual sports will have to be answered in the time ahead for us to make a definitive decision on section championships,” Wigod said in a statement.
The CIF-SS commissioner concluded his update thanking school administrators for their effort in what has been a difficult year for all.
“I cannot say enough about the incredible work done by our principals, athletic directors and coaches since we announced our 2020-21 sports calendars on July 20, 2020,” he said. “Since that date, the focus has always been on doing everything we could do to come through and deliver for our student-athletes so they would be able to do what they love to do and what we love watching them do.
“The dedication and commitment of our educational professionals to our student-athletes has never wavered throughout this challenging time we have experienced and are still experiencing. Their support of our shared mission promoting the values of education-based athletics must be acknowledged and will never be forgotten.”
Glendale Unified School District high school administrators are committed to giving their indoor sports athletes a season.
Crescenta Valley High School Assistant Principal Jordan Lessem told the News-Press that boys’ volleyball will begin on April 8 and basketball is scheduled to open the season later in the month.
The administrative team at Glendale High School is also committed to scheduling as many games as it can for spring sports athletes. No date has been set for the basketball, wrestling and volleyball season openers, but an announcement can come as early as next week, according to GHS Athletic Director Narek Vardanian.
“We’re definitely hopeful to get spring sports going but not just yet,” said Vardanian. “When the county approved other things — for example, competition for outdoor sports — we didn’t automatically jump on that right away. We gave the district time so that they could finalize their protocols so that everyone can be on the same page.”
As the boys’ water polo coach, Vardanian understands the importance of getting student-athletes some playing time.
“I think CIF [playoffs] are secondary,” he said. “If we just start getting some competition, especially for the seniors, I think that can be enough for them to walk away and think their senior year wasn’t a total waste. [My water polo players] were just happy to get some games in, and it felt amazing. It felt like a little bit of normalcy in all of the crazy that we have experienced. It was a lot of work in a short period of time to schedule those games, but it was good for the athletes.”