When the California Interscholastic Federation announced on Monday that fall high school sports would be delayed — and three traditional seasons would be squeezed into two — it started an unprecedented scramble for campus administrators and coaches to fit round pegs into square holes.
In its edict, CIF told football programs they could kick off the new alignment with practices beginning Dec. 14.
Joining football in the winter are girls and boys volleyball, cross country and water polo. Each will start competition in January.
Spring sports are basketball, wrestling, soccer, tennis and golf (all boys and girls teams). They’ll play simultaneously with the regular spring sports of track and field, baseball, softball, badminton and swimming.
Fall competitive cheerleading, field hockey, gymnastics, skiing and skydiving are left to individual section consideration for title dates — as are sport cheerleading and lacrosse in the spring.
Davis High, which fields more than 1,100 student-athletes, has 25 sports teams with Athletic Director Jeff Lorenson charged with coordinating schedules, checking compliance and, these days, ensuring that public health protocols are followed.
Lorenson said he’s met with Sac-Joaquin Section and Davis schools officials about the new CIF schedule and guidelines and is in the process of talking with coaches about the revamped scheduling.
Most formerly fall sports at DHS were involved in socially distanced, outdoor workouts in anticipation of a traditional start date.
“All that has changed,” Lorenson understated, adding that he’s been sorting through what his teams will do now that regulations for coaches’ contact with players have been relaxed:
“Do we stop now, discontinue conditioning practices? Do we continue just like we are and monitor (workouts)? There are a lot of question marks at the moment.”
Nine of the 10 statewide CIF sections will work backwards from end-of-playoff dates provided in the new calendar. Each season is to last 13 weeks.
(The Northern Section, which is based in Chico and includes 70 schools, has given the green light to its members to start fall sports “on time” — provided approval comes from local public health departments.)
In football’s case, the final Sac-Joaquin Section football playoff game is April 10.
Sac-Joaquin Section Associate Commissioner Will DeBoard told a Monday Zoom conference with the media that a state championship would be conducted the week after that but that regions could also set up bowl games for April 17.
DeBoard said most playoff periods will be reduced, but noted that his section will create more divisions for football in order to keep the postseason-participants numbers “still around 80.” DeBoard says 11 weeks have been identified for schools to play 10 regular-season football contests before heading into the truncated postseason.
Among new twists for the 2020-21 sports calendar are:
* There are no dead periods, in which coaches and athletes for certain sports can’t meet or practice.
* Summer-like regulations are extended through Dec. 14. Schools can be represented at football passing camps, basketball tournaments and with off-shore baseball games and tournaments. There are no CIF restrictions should athletes independently venture into AAU basketball, Area Code or showcase baseball tournaments, or other club workouts or competition.
* Athletes are allowed to participate simultaneously on club teams and school teams. This marks a suspension of CIF bylaw Rule 600.
* For most sports, 28 contacts (games or events) are allowed.
DeBoard warned that, despite so many regulations being relaxed, the transfer guidelines are steadfast for athletes who go out of state to play a canceled or delayed sport, then return the following season.
“If those are not full-family moves, the kids will probably have trouble getting eligibility when they come back,” the longtime section official explained.
Myriad concerns remain on the horizon. Many decisions to be made remain at the mercy of COVID-19 impact and the proclamations of state and county health officials:
* Will fans be allowed? DeBoard said “safety precautions will be strictly school issues … county to county.”
* How will sharing facilities shake out if boys and girls now overlap seasons for tennis, golf and volleyball? DeBoard says that is an area-by-area problem to solve.
* Will there be enough officials to go around, especially in the spring? DeBoard says officials associations have assured him “they can cover it … and they have six months to bolster their ranks.”
“We just don’t know what things look like going down the road,” DeBoard noted. “We just hope we can get back to a sense of normalcy.”
Notes: There are 800,000 prep student-athletes in California. … CIF suspended 2020 spring sports last March, and DeBoard believes if the sports ban goes beyond the winter and spring seasons, it could signal a death knell for some athletic programs, especially at smaller schools. … Coaches and athletes participating in more than one sport could have to deal with overlapping seasons. While CIF and Davis High rules allow for participation in multiple sports, the rework of schedules could be problematic for some.
— Reach Davis Enterprise sports editor Bruce Gallaudet at [email protected] or call 530-320-4456. Follow Gallaudet on Twitter at BGsportsinDavis.ShareTweet