May 29, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Could high school basketball be headed for outdoors competition in 2021 season?

Players from Beckman (light uniforms) and Portola compete in a game last season. (File photo: Fernando M. Donado, For OC Sports Zone)

Could high school girls and boys basketball games in the CIF Southern Section be played on outdoor courts during the 2021 season?

It may be possible in light of the new tier system released this week by the California Department of Public Health.

The CIF State Office plans to have basketball played indoors in the second season from March to June, but basketball is in the most safe yellow tier. Currently, all Southern California counties are in the most restrictive purple tier, which would make it difficult for basketball to start.

However, the state’s guidelines noted that outdoor basketball could be played in the orange or moderate tier which is one step away from yellow.

CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod, in response about the tough road ahead for basketball, said Thursday:

“They do but I’ve had discussions with coaches about how basketball could be played outdoors and find sport courts and ways to do things like that. People just have to be as open and flexible as they can and as crazy as people might think that sounds, if outdoor basketball falls in the orange tier and you can get to the orange tier and yellow is still far off and you could find a way to play basketball outdoors, then maybe you play it outdoors.

“I think our schools would ultimately determine that and want to see how far they would take certain things to give their student athletes a chance. But we’re going to be supportive of every effort made to have student athletes back in a healthy and safe way so if they even put together an outside basketball situation, the CIF is not going to sit there and say the Southern Section is not going to do that.

“We’re going to say, ‘you’re following the guidelines of protocol and you’re able to do it, why wouldn’t we support that?'”

It’s not known how many schools would have adequate outdoor courts for the plan to work, but perhaps there could be neutral court games at schools that do. A number of basketball teams, including Derek Mitchell’s Cypress High squad, have been doing conditioning drills outside.

Beckman boys basketball coach John Goins indicated overall support for the plan.

“Well, honestly I hadn’t even really considered the idea of playing outside,” he said Friday. “I guess if there is a time of year to do it, the spring is the best. My priority is to see the boys get a season, and if that means we play outside, then we do it.

“Obviously there would have to be some sort of standardization in what the courts must be able to provide, and I also wonder how we would handle weather events like wind, but it’s not like there are not schools across the country, and world for that matter, who play official games outside. Plus, maybe we get lucky where we start the season outdoors and then get an opportunity later in the season to move indoors if circumstances present themselves.” 

Tustin girls basketball coach Claire Gocke also seemed to indicate support:

“As a coach seeing your kids grind on a daily basis with the hope of having a season, I think at this point it doesn’t matter what kind of season that is, just get out and compete, not just within the guidelines for COVID, but also injury prevention, etc. outside, then by all means, I am in!”

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com