Local high school sports teams won't be competing until at least December or January, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced Monday.
"We are continuously monitoring the directives and guidelines released from the Governor's Office, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and local county health departments and agencies as these directives and guidelines are followed by our member schools/school districts with student health and safety at the forefront," the governing body for high school sports in California said in a press release.
The California Interscholastic Federation released a modified season that pushes section playoffs for several sports, including football, water polo, basketball and baseball, into spring and summer of 2021.
Given the changes, the CIF will temporarily allow student athletes to participate on outside teams at the same time as their high school teams.
The CIF's announcement leaves it up to each section to set their regular-season schedules for multiple sports. Midpeninsula student-athletes and their families can expect to see their schedules on Tuesday, when the Central Coast Section's Executive Committee will vote and release its plan, Commissioner David Grissom said. The section administers sports from San Francisco to King City.
The committee faces numerous decisions, including whether it should forego regional tournaments, said Grissom, who expects the 10-member group to set schedules that will largely fall in line with the CIF's sports calendar.
"What the state put out basically was a reduction of seasons from three to two," said Grissom, the former principal of Mountain View High School. While the state's schedule allows for full seasons of competition, a student who plays in two sports will see their seasons compete with one another.
"Student-athletes are going to have to make choices where they didn't have to make decisions (in the past)," Grissom said.
The changes are in effect for the 2020-21 school year only. If public health and education guidelines change, however, local high schools can allow for athletic activity to potentially resume, CIF said.
Grissom plans to suggest switching gymnastics from the fall, its current category under the CIF schedule, to the spring in the CCS based on feedback from people in the sport and public health orders preventing student-athletes from practicing at gyms. Also, the Central Coast and San Diego sections are the only ones across the state that offer gymnastics, which doesn't have a state tournament.
Another question facing the CCS Executive Committee is whether to extend the end of the summer season, which allows student-athletes to participate in conditioning training, from this Friday, July 24, to December.
Once the CCS releases regular season schedules, schools will need to scramble to complete their sports schedules for the year, Grissom said. They also face pressure over which teams will be able to use a facility at a given time.
"No matter how you slice the pie, when you have two seasons and one stadium, then you've got competing interests to get on the playing field," he said.
At Mountain View High School, Athletic Director Shelley Smith said that he wasn't surprised that fall sports will be delayed until December or January. The big surprise from CIF announcement is that there will only be two sports seasons instead of three, he said.
That will mean logistics and scheduling challenges as winter and spring sports compete for limited open field or court spaces, and tough choices for multi-sport athletes as to which sport or sports they will pursue over the 2020-21 school year.
Smith said he was still waiting for the Central Coast Section Executive Committee to release more detailed information about how athletics will proceed next year, such as how long sport seasons will be, when teams can start practicing and what health guidelines will be in place.
"A lot of athletic coaches are very anxious right now," he said.
Over the past month or so, the high school has allowed teams that usually compete in the fall and winter to begin summer conditioning programs on campus.
They remain in small cohorts of no more than 12, stay outdoors and must keep 6 feet apart at all times. Indoor facilities like basketball courts and the weight room have stayed closed, Smith said.
High school coaches have had to put a lot of guidelines in place to prevent kids happy to see each other again in person from getting too close, but they've done a good job so far, he said.
"It's been great for our kids," Smith said. "They're starting to do pretty well and are feeling pretty good about themselves again."
He added that he's hoping that conditioning will be able to continue through the rest of the year, and that spring sport teams will be allowed to start conditioning as well when it gets closer to the start of their season.
Read the full CIF statement here:
Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.