Friday Night Lights turned off until 2021 in Contra Costa

High school sports calendar reimagined.

The California Interscholastic Federation and its North Coast Section locally announced Monday morning that all high school sports will be moved into a condensed schedule from January through June 2021 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

And that schedule is predicated on state and local government and health officials allowing competition to take place on the new timetable. Just days ago, Governor Gavin Newsom mandated closed campuses and distance learning for the start of the 2020-21 fall term for counties with high rates of coronavirus infections, which includes almost the entire Bay Area and over half the state’s 58 counties.

NCS Commissioner Pat Cruickshank released a schedule that localizes what the CIF state office posted earlier Monday for its 10 sections. NCS includes 18 leagues and 19 unaffiliated schools from Humboldt and Del Norte in the north through the East Bay area.

January 2021

Starting in January, competition will be held for cross country, football, volleyball, water polo, field hockey, gymnastics and traditional competitive cheer. Those sports will wrap up with section, Northern California and/or state playoffs in March with the exception of football, which will conclude in mid-April.

Besides the obvious difference of moving all fall sports to the winter, this format also has boys and girls volleyball taking place at the same time. In “normal” years, the girls play in the fall and boys in spring. This, of course, puts a burden on gym time at schools as well as potential double duty for coaches who handle both boys and girls teams.

The winter and spring sports will then take place starting in late February or early March and concluding from the end of May through the end of June. This includes traditional NCS winter sports of basketball, wrestling and soccer plus golf, lacrosse, softball, baseball, track and field, swimming and diving, competitive sports cheer (stunt), tennis and badminton.

Both golf and tennis are combining boys and girls seasons into the spring. Usually, girls golf and tennis are fall sports. Again, this stretches facility requirements for those two sports. School “football” fields that usually have football in the fall, soccer in the winter and lacrosse and track in the spring will now potentially have all those sports overlapping in 2021.

An unusual situation

Understanding the unusual situation facing athletes and schools this year, CIF has suspended Bylaws 600-605 for the 2020-21 school year that will allow students to participate on their school teams simultaneously with taking part on outside teams such as AAU and club teams. Sports such as swimming, soccer and basketball in particular have year-round athletes who usually must stop competing or training with those non-school programs during their school season defined by NCS.

What that waiver doesn’t account for though are multi-sport athletes who will either have to choose one sport over another or tried to do two sports at the same time, such as basketball and baseball/softball.

Under the current schedule each sport has enough time to complete the maximum number of regular season games it would normally have (for example 10 in football or 24 in other sports). Out of state travel and even NorCal vs. SouCal games are likely all off the table so teams are scrambling to fill out schedules.

Clayton Valley Charter and De La Salle’s high-profile football teams each had multiple games against teams outside of Northern California. DLS was scheduled to travel to Texas in August for a game on ESPN and the Washington state champions were coming to the Bay Area to play 2019 state titlists Clayton Valley Charter but those games were canceled some time ago.

CIF State championships

CIF State championships for cross country, swimming, wrestling and track and field are shown the NCS calendar released today. However, basketball and football state championships are not on the calendar and Cruickshank says those are still pending final word from the CIF office.

California Community College Athletic Association also has a new schedule with shortened seasons during the first half of 2021. Practice will start in mid-January and competition in February for cross country, women’s golf, basketball, football, soccer, women’s volleyball, water polo and wrestling. Badminton, baseball, beach volleyball, men’s golf, softball, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and men’s volleyball are scheduled to start practice in late March before commencing competition on April 10.

All decisions are subject to change as there are no guarantees the virus will cooperate with any timetable. In the past week virtually all school districts in the state, even before Newsom’s declaration, moved to distance learning for the beginning of the fall term. Should that policy continue into the new year where does that leave athletics, which would be coming onto an otherwise closed campus for training and competition?