May 30, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

UPDATE: CIF officials continue discussions on return to play guidelines for 2021

CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod said Wednesday officials will continue discussions about return to play guidelines for high school sports issued by the California State Department of Public Health and expect their next update to come on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

In addition, the CIF state office issued guidelines for each sport in a detailed document and grouped sports tentatively into two seasons, pending approval from state, county and local health and safety officials.

State officials said that no sports could begin until at least Jan. 25, 2021. Under the CIF State plan, the first high school season would tentatively run from January through April and include cheerleading, cross country, field hockey, football, gymnastics, skiing/snowboarding, girls volleyball and water polo.

The second season running from March to June would include badminton, baseball, basketball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, boys volleyball and wrestling.

However, state officials said they would re-assess the matter Jan. 4, 2021. Each county would have to be in a specific tier in order for sports to start. Currently, most of the state is in the most restrictive purple tier. Football could only occur if counties drop to the safer moderate level, which is two tiers below purple.

Coronavirus cases continue to surge in the state and the Orange County Health Agency reported Wednesday there were 3,231 new cases and 23 deaths in the county.

Wigod addressed the state’s guidelines in a letter to principals and athletic directors which was shared with the media.

“It is important to note that what was recommended by our CIF Sports Medicine Advisory Committee is not what we see here,” Wigod said in his statement. “We requested that all sports be conducted in the Red Tier
and were hopeful that we would be allowed to proceed accordingly.

“While that is not the case today, I want to assure you that the dialogue will continue between the CIF and the California Department of Public Health to try and advocate for the return of education-based athletics as soon as that can happen in a healthy and safe way.

“There is no doubt that we have significant challenges ahead of us. We must try and overcome those challenges with every effort we can make in support of our student-athletes. It is too important to them for us to not do everything we can do on their behalf to keep their dreams alive. Now is not the time to lose hope and I know I can count on you to continue to
fight for what we all believe in.”

The CIF State Office also issued a statement:

“Everyone in California wants students to be able to return to in-person learning, sports, and all other co-curricular activities that are so important for their physical and mental well-being. As COVID-19 transmission rates are rising significantly in California, communities across the state must continue to take measures to limit the spread of the virus. Therefore,
we implore ALL Californians to wear a mask, practice social distancing, limit mixing between households and practice all basic hygiene.

“This is the way to ensure the best chance for CIF competition to commence by Jan. 25, as allowed by the guidance from the California Department of Public Health. State agencies will continue to monitor epidemiological trends.”

The state office also emphasized the importance of face coverings except during actual competition and encouraged teams to come up with different options other than handshakes before and after games. In basketball, the state office recommends that players be six feet apart on the bench.

In football, there would be a rotation of three footballs and any time a ball would go out of play it must be sanitized thoroughly with a bleach wipe before officials can return the ball to play. Players would also be encouraged to wear long sleeves to reduce skin contact with the ball.

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