Contra Costa high school sports put on hold…again

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY—The organization in charge of California high school sports made the not unexpected announcement today that “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.”

The California Interscholastic Federation went on to say, “CIF does not expect the CDPH will issue any guidance allowing for schools to return to full practice and competition until after Jan. 1 at the earliest. Thus, all full practice and competition start dates are officially on hold until updated guidance is issued.”

High school sports in the state came to a screeching halt last March when California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered the first major state-wide measures in response to the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic. That meant the state high school basketball playoffs were halted days before the championship games and all spring sports were canceled.

In July, CIF announced that fall sports would be delayed until Jan 1. That schedule has remained pretty much intact with football plus boys and girls water polo, cross country and volleyball slated to begin formal practices next Monday, Dec. 7.

Reduced seasons

North Coast Section developed three reduced seasons of competition from January to June aligned with CIF regional and state playoff formats. Now those are all up for review with Season 1 practice delayed. Today’s CIF announcement also said all regional and state playoffs for Season 1 have been canceled in order for more regular-season competition to take place within the constrained time frame that sports will be competing.

The statement added “to provide the 10 CIF Sections, our 1,605 member schools and more than 800,000 student-athletes the best opportunity to compete in Season 1 sports, once allowed by the CDPH and local county offices of public health, the CIF State Office is removing all regional and state championship events from the Season 1 sports calendar. By canceling regional and state championship events, more student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a longer season, rather than a truncated season with regional and state post-season play for a limited number of schools.

NCS commissioner Pat Cruickshank

NCS commissioner Pat Cruickshank then issued a statement:

“I know that many of you are frustrated with the lack of guidance up to this point, we as a section and statewide as commissioners are also very frustrated with the same thing. The CIF’s continued efforts to work with our State has unfortunately produced no updated guidelines on their part. As a result, the CIF has decided to cancel their Regional championships for Season 1 so as to give sections another week of play. Additionally, boys volleyball will move back into Season 2 in hopes of giving them back a full season that was lost last year.

“As a section, we will continue to wait on updated guidelines from CDPH. While I do not anticipate any guidance from them until after the holidays, if we receive anything we will communicate that immediately. When we have those guidelines we will move accordingly to begin season 1. In the meantime, come Dec. 7 schools may continue to do what counties allow currently but may not start practice under those current guidelines. We have also targeted Jan. 19 as a date to alert our schools about a decision to either continue with section championships or give those weeks back to our leagues to extend league play.

“I understand that what you wanted to hear today was better news than this, however with cases rising, all but one of our counties in the purple tier, and the realization of the holidays that surround us, this is the best we can do at this time moving forward.

“I urge you all, to ask your communities, in the name of our kids, to wear a mask, practice the proper social distancing guidelines, and to think about our kids and our schools when making decisions around gatherings this holiday season. There is still a chance that we can have a season, but that won’t happen until some things change. We have control and power over what we do and I hope that we all use that power to influence a change!”