Athletes and coaches throughout Los Angeles County finally heard the announcement they have been waiting for: High school athletics are officially a go. L.A. Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer announced Wednesday that the county would update its Protocols for Youth and Adult Sports League to align with the state’s guidelines, allowing outdoor sports to begin practice and competition this week. It has been 11 months since an official high school game was played in L.A. County. Schools closed their doors last March to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and public health officials did not allow any competition or practice of any kind.
A new directive from the California Department of Public Health leaves only fading hope for the playing of most high school sports during the 2020-21 school year, especially those scheduled for Season 1. Athletes, coaches, parents and administrators waited more than four months for the update on youth sports, and the news wasn’t good. The directive, released on Monday, delays sports competitions between teams until at least Jan. 25. When the California Interscholastic Sports Federation — the governing body for prep athletics in the state — announced a revised schedule on July 20, fall sports were scheduled to begin as early as Dec. 19. Two weeks ago, the schedule was pushed back to Jan. 1. The return-to-competition date will be reassessed by Jan. 4. In the meantime, teams are forbidden to participate in tournaments held outside of California, as had been common during the pandemic. “It’s not surprising at all,” said Brian James, Burbank High School assistant principal of activities and athletics. “We talked about the surge happening after Thanksgiving and that is now the case, and now we have a major holiday coming through. We will just have to see what happens.”
Concerned over the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Los Angeles County, Burbank Unified School District officials announced the suspension of all on-campus conditioning for the district’s high school athletes on Monday. The county record for daily new coronavirus cases was broken for a second time this week with 7,854 reported cases on Thursday. The previous high (7,593) had been reported on Tuesday. The student-athletes’ and coaches’ joy upon returning to campus for conditioning lasted only three weeks.
As professional leagues manage their seasons amid a pandemic, youth and high school sports teams have remained sidelined due to restrictions from the state and Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. County health officials updated their Reopening Protocol for Youth Sports Leagues order last week, allowing players to train outside as long as there is 6 feet of separation among them, appropriate face coverings are worn by everyone and a screening is conducted prior to any activity. However, no tournaments or any kind of competition are permitted, and contact drills also are prohibited. Coaches and players are looking for any opportunity to get back on the field for in-person training but local administrators still cannot give them the green light. “L.A. County’s reopening protocols are at least a small gesture toward returning to competition for youth sports, by allowing small groups (10 or fewer) to train and practice sport-specific skills in outdoor areas,” Brian James, assistant principal of athletics and activities at Burbank High School, said in an email. “However, participation by public schools is still guided by the L.A. County Office of Education and the local district. To date, we have not received permission from either entity to resume school-level athletic practices.
The California Interscholastic Federation released its much-anticipated revised high school athletics calendar for the 2020-21 year, announcing a two-season format scheduled to begin in December.
CIF State, the governing body for prep sports in California, announced its schedule for section playoffs and state tournaments on Monday morning. Soon after, the Southern Section, the largest section in the state with 566 member schools, released a calendar that gives student-athletes an opportunity to play “90% to 100%” of a normal season, according to CIF-SS Commissioner Rob Wigod.
“The reason for [the two-season format] was to help with the overlap of sports and trying to have some separation between two seasons to allow for dual-sport athletes, for coaches that coach more than one sport and for maximizing the utilization of school facilities,” Wigod said in a press conference on Monday. Continue reading “High School Sports Delayed Until December in CIF’s New Calendar”