Monday, January 18, 2021

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High school athletes still left on edge

California Interscholastic Federation officials met Dec. 15 for a new plan for high school athletes. 

Football, volleyball, and other popular high sports will remain on hold until Jan. 25, as cases of the coronavirus continue to surge in the state, according to new guidance released by the California Department of Public Health. 

The state’s four-tier tracking system underpins the long-awaited guidance for when outdoor and indoor youth recreational and adult sports can resume. “High-contact” outdoor sports, such as football and soccer, can only be played in counties that are in the orange, or moderate, tier. 

CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said the calendar was not discussed at the last meeting because it’s possible the guidance could change.

“There were questions about things we could look at in the future,” said Nocetti. 

Nocetti said people are a little hesitant to do things until they see if that Jan. 25 date is going to hold.

Instead of all high school sports placed in the red tier, the state separated the sports among the four colored tiers based on factors like how much close contact that sport featured and whether it was an indoor or outdoor sport. 

These are the high school sports that would be allowed in each colored tier: Purple tier: cross country, golf, swimming, tennis and track and field; Red tier: baseball, softball; Orange tier: football, cheerleading, soccer, water polo, volleyball; Yellow tier: basketball, wrestling. Colusa is currently in the purple or Tier 1, Purple, indicating that the virus is widespread in the county with more than seven cases per 100,000 residents or more than 8 percent of tests results reported positive over seven days. Red (Tier 2) indicates “substantial” spread of the virus, while orange (Tier 3) indicates “moderate” spread and yellow (Tier 4) indicates “minimal” spread of the virus in the county.

“Everything has changed so dramatically for these high school athletes, at this point it seems nothing is clear,” said Maxwell’s head softball coach, Sarah Rogers. “If softball were to start earlier than predicted, these kids aren’t even prepared. If these officials cared at all about these kids, the task at hand would be clear, let them play!” 

One refrain that has frustrated athletes and parents often repeat is “How come they can play in Arizona and Texas, but we can’t in California?” 

Many states have gotten the approval of their government and their leadership, who have allowed sports to go forward. They’ve had their hiccups, problems, postponements, cancellations, and outbreaks, just as California will as well, but that’s the difference.

“The changes are understandable but extremely frustrating,” said Cheri Azevedo, Williams JV Volleyball coach. “The damage to these kids is irrecoverable, at this point. It’s not just the physical toll these athletes are suffering, but the mental part as well.”

Athletes and coaches will all have to sit tight until at least Jan. 19 when the CIF will provide an update on the plans for fall sports championships and postseasons. ♣

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