May 24, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

State guidelines for indoor sports, including basketball, expected to be updated soon

Guidelines for indoor sports in Orange County and throughout the state are expected to be updated by the California Department of Public Health this week following a lawsuit settlement agreement reached on the return to play, CIF offictials said in a statement Thursday.

The guidelines could help indoor sports such as basketball, volleyball and wrestling return this school year under safety guidelines. The final decision to bring those sports back would still be up to school districts and schools should the state guidelines allow.

The settlement agreement has not been made public yet, CIF officials said.

In a televised press conference in San Diego Thursday, Steven Grebing, one of the attorneys representing players who filed suit, said he expects the new guidelines to be updated either later Thursday or Friday by the California Department of Public Health. He said that the plan will also have to be approved by the CIF state office and individual counties, including Orange County, throughout the state.

He added that final details of the settlement are being worked out. Officials with the Let Them Play CA organization, which helped bring football back, were on hand for the press conference.

“It is our understanding that the California Department of Public Health will be updating its Youth Sports Guidance based on a settlement agreement reached in a litigation matter pending in San Diego County,” said Thom Simmons, assistant commissioner of the CIF Southern Section.

“It is further our understanding that the settlement agreement is not yet available for review.  We are therefore reserving comment on the terms of the agreement until it is finalized.  Until such time, it is our understanding that the current CDPH Youth Sports Guidance remains in effect pending the publication of any updated CDPH guidance.”

While a number of outdoor sports, including football, water polo, cross country and tennis, have been given the OK to return, pending approval by local school districts, indoor sports such as basketball have not.

Basketball, volleyball and wrestling continued to be grouped in the minimal yellow tier in this week’s guidelines from the California Department of Public Health.

But with coronavirus cases decreasing there appears to be a chance that Orange County and other counties will drop into the red tier next week, which could help those sports return. Under the CIF plan, those sports are grouped in the season two with tentative starting dates this month.

“I think everyone is waiting to see what the numbers will be Tuesday,” said Mark Cunningham, Irvine Unified School District Athletic Director. “If they drop below seven then I believe we moved into the red tier which would allow 10 percent capacity in a gym.

“That could then possibly open up new discussions on guidelines. This is all conjecture on my part.”

Outdoor sports were allowed to return last week after counties reached a 14 or below coronavirus average per 100,000. This week, all eight counties within the Southern Section reached that figure, CIF officials said. Orange County was at 7.6 and Los Angeles County was at 7.2.

Orange County basketball coaches, including Derek Mitchell, head boys coach at Cypress, have been hoping that their sport would get the green light to begin competition soon.

“I’ve been following this story and am curious to see this proposed settlement,” said Beckman Coach John Goins. “As I stated when the green light was given for outdoor, but not indoor, the data shows there is no difference between the two types of sports and transmission rates.

“This is good news for the indoor sports, and I hope that everyone remains vigilant in good health and safety practices if this does end up happening to protect our players and their families. I’m eagerly awaiting the news!”

In the meantime, basketball practices have been held on outdoor courts and there has even been some talk of having actual games outside.

Boys and girls water polo is scheduled to begin this week with a number of football teams scheduled to open their seasons next week.

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