Football players never like to hear that they’ve been called for holding. However, that’s what the entire state has been ordered to after the California Interscholastic Federation released a Tuesday afternoon statement concerning sports during COVID-19.
In April, prep sports in the spring were cancelled due to the coronavirus. That has continued this fall, where previously the state had been given a Dec. 7 date before schools could even begin official practice. However, that date has now been moved to the first day of 2021 — at the earliest.
“Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 infections, the California Department of Public Health has postponed the issuance of its updated youth sports guidance,” a CIF statement read. “The CIF does not expect the CDPH will issue any guidance allowing for schools to return to full practice and competition until after January 1, 2021, at the earliest. Thus, all full practice and competition start dates are officially on hold until updated guidance is issued.
The CIF decided to also remove all the regional and state championship events from the Season 1 Sports Calendar. The calendar consisted of fall sports such as football, golf, girls volleyball, cross country and water polo.
On Tuesday afternoon, Vallejo High Athletic Director, Josh Ramos, was upset that an official date had not been given.
“Well when I read the statement it was what I expected, but I was really hoping for some more definitive answers,” Ramos said. “Right now, everything is just tentative. After this the new guidance is just to be on hold, but that’s what we have been doing. At least with the Dec. 7 date it gave us something to work toward. I was hoping they would at least start on some kind of calendar for 2021.”
Ramos said he’s afraid that with no guidance, more student-athletes will give up on this school year, whether it’s in the classroom or on a court, field or track.
“People might lose interest and you’re going to have kids thinking that with no season they don’t have to worry about their grades or working out on their own,” Ramos said. “They’ll think that it’s something not worth it to care about.”
Jesse Bethel High Athletic Director Jeff Turner said he wasn’t surprised at the statement, saying it was “far-fetched” that anyone would start playing in December with the recent cases of COVID going up. However, he agreed with Ramos that some students at Bethel had already lost hope.
“Oh, that already happening here. I’m already seeing student athletes give up on their grades,” Turner said. “We call them student-athletes, but a lot of them don’t want to do the student part.”
Additionally, the statement also said that boys volleyball will be moved to Season 2 to avoid the loss of a second full season, and an updated Season 2 calendar to include boys volleyball will be posted in January.
Turner and Ramos both mentioned that there has been talk of having just one season of sports with Ramos mentioning that there was a chance there could only be spring sports this year since those were the ones lost during the 2019-20 school year. Turner mentioned the same thing and said there has even been talk about each league deciding on just a few sports to play, but having them be a mix of fall, winter and spring. One of the biggest reasons for that according to Turner — transportation.
“If we have too many sports at the same time, how are we going to do transportation?” Turner asked. “We can’t have three people sitting to one bench on a bus on the way to games if we are social distancing.”
Turner said he’s often asked by parents and students what is going on and the coach said he often feels, “helpless.”
“I feel like we’re getting no help from the district and we’re in this big holding pattern,” Turner said.
“It’s tough, because you see there are 43 states competing in prep sports, leaving seven that aren’t,” Ramos said. “And we’re one of the seven. Usually, we’d be finishing up on fall sports now. So we’re just waiting on some kind of guidance.”
Ramos said the canceling of state and regional championship games wasn’t a surprise either.
“My guess is that when sports continue we are going to go back to what it was like right before we canceled spring sports, and that’s to have games with no fans,” Ramos said. “So if we had these state championship games with no fans, there is a lot of money being lost. This way money can be saved.”