The California Interscholastic Federation announced Friday that the state’s high schools should proceed with the assumption that sports competition will resume next fall.
The CIF State Office, which shut down all high school competition last March because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said it would make a final decision about fall sports by July 20.
“I am happy that CIF is doing everything they can and is accommodating to make fall sports happen,” San Marcos High athletic director Abe Jahadhmy said. “I am optimistic that there will be fall sports. When they will begin is another question.
“I think the model will be all sports in the fall.”
Jahadhmy, the dean of local ADs, said he is working with Dos Pueblos’ Dan Feldhaus and Santa Barbara’s Todd Heil on a plan that would allow their teams to begin summer training “around July 6th, with all the CIF State guidelines.”
“The health and safety of our students and staff are our number one priority,” Heil said. “We have to be patient and thoughtful when formulating our plan because we only get one chance to get it right.
“These guidelines call for small group workouts that mainly consist of conditioning only for most sports.”
He said he’s not surprised that the CIF is delaying its final decision until July 20. He believes the extensive protocol may delay the fall schedule, as well.
“Given that information, it’s hard to envision the fall sports starting as previously scheduled in late August,” Heil said. “Once you start to move the calendar, you’re also probably looking at a reduction in games scheduled in order to get all three seasons in.
“I think it’s also important to note that it’s quite conceivable that not all counties and school districts will be able to reopen at the same time. This further complicates producing a CIF calendar.”
Two of the South Coast’s three Channel League schools are scheduled to open their football seasons on Aug. 21: Santa Barbara at Saugus and San Marcos at Santa Paula. Bishop Diego is also set play its opener on Aug. 21 against Righetti at SBCC’s La Playa Stadium.
Dos Pueblos is scheduled to open on Aug. 28 at Nordhoff. Carpinteria is supposed to start its season on that date at Brentwood, as well.
The CIF sent “return to activity guidelines” to the schools in all 10 of its sections on Friday. The comprehensive document was prepared by the CIF Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and was presented this week during a teleconference between the CIF and its section commissioners.
It included guidelines for testing, pre-participation exams, facilities cleaning, entrance and exit strategies for athletic events, pre-workout screenings, hygiene practices, hydration and food, travel, and face coverings.
Rob Wigod, commissioner of athletics for the CIF’s Southern Section, said his office is “totally committed to having fall, winter and spring sports” this year.
“I want to remind you,” he added, “that the decisions to reopen our schools and subsequently bring back athletic programs after they have started their academic year will be made entirely by each local” school authority with the guidance of public health officials.
The state guidelines addressed the limitation of gatherings, listing two phases for each sport.
The document went so far as to mandate that “physical contact such as high-fives, first and chest bumps, and hugs should not be allowed.”
“At this point, everyone should understand that high school athletics, just like classes, are not going to have a traditional look to them this coming school year,” Heil said. “What’s most important is doing everything we can within the health guidelines to hopefully allow our student-athletes to have a season, even if it’s delayed and truncated.
The foundational statement coming from the state office did affirm that “The CIF believes education-based athletics is essential to the physical, mental and social well-being of students and it is important for them to return to physical activity and athletic competition.”
It noted that the situations could vary from one school to another, depending on guidelines set by its own district or county agencies.
That is where the question of allowing spectators at high school events will be ultimately answered.
“Losing football would affect the budget some,” Jahadhmy conceded.
The NCAA has considered moving back its own football schedule, but its College Football Oversight Committee indicated that it will be submitting a detailed, four-phase plan next week to start preseason workouts in mid-July.
Jahadhmy said that delaying the high school football season to late in the year or to the spring “would be difficult … However, we are in it for the kids and will do anything to see them have a season as long as it is safe.”
“All our coaches and students are very anxious to get going,” he added. “However, I have really been impressed by all the coaches and parents in our district for being patient and caring about everyone’s safety.”