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Setback for prep sports as state orders a delay

High school football practices had been scheduled to open Dec. 12.
High school football practices, which had been scheduled to open Dec. 12, won’t start until after updated state guidance is issued, according to the California Interscholastic Federation.
(File)

Student-athletes can’t return to practice or competition until after Jan. 1 at the earliest.

High school athletes across the state have been hit with another setback with the announcement that the California Department of Public Health has postponed a long-awaited issuance of youth sports guidance amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The California Interscholastic Federation doesn’t expect any guidance allowing schools to return to full practice and competition until after Jan. 1 at the earliest.

“All full practice and competition start dates are officially on hold until updated guidance is issued,” CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said in a statement Dec. 1.

The state’s 10 CIF sections were scheduled to open Season 1 practices Dec. 12, with a return to play Jan. 8. Season 1 sports include football, boys and girls cross country, field hockey, badminton, gymnastics, boys and girls water polo and girls volleyball.

Boys volleyball, usually a spring sport, was scheduled for Season 1 but has been pushed back to Season 2 to avoid the loss of a second full season.

CIF normally has three seasons — fall, winter and spring. Now there are just Season 1 and Season 2.

In an effort to get in a full season of play, the state CIF office is removing all regional and state championship events from Season 1.

“By canceling regional and state championship events, more student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a larger season rather than a truncated season with regional and state postseason play for a limited number of schools,” Nocetti said.

The belief is that this decision gives Season 1 sports the best opportunity to compete once they are allowed by the state and county offices of public health.

“We had to let schools know,” said San Diego CIF Commissioner Joe Heinz. “We’re committed to making Season 1 work. We have plans in place to maximize opportunities. Nothing is off the table. This situation is out of our control. We’re asking everyone to be flexible.”

That flexibility could include a reduction of regular-season games and playoff fields.

There are 1,605 CIF member schools in the state, both public and private, with more than 800,000 student-athletes. ◆