Photo Courtesy of Jay Laxamana
Athletics in the state of California have been very much up in the air since the start of the school year. There have been many back and forths and changings of schedules; lately the major theme has been:
will we even have sports this year?
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the governing agency for high school sports, has been taking heat for the past few months from fans, parents and coaches. Some 35 states including Alabama, Arizona, Texas, Utah, Florida and Oklahoma, have already completed their fall sports, and are almost half way through their winter seasons.
However this has not been healthy for some states such as Minnesota. In November, their governor halted sports as the schools had accumulated around 242,000 cases statewide.
But currently in the state of California, practices can only be outdoors, socially distanced with no sharing of equipment, let alone a full blown season.
The CIF has broken up all of athletics into two seasons. Season 1 (January-April) includes traditional competitive cheer, cross country, football, gymnastics, girls volleyball, water polo.
Season 2 (March-June) is for baseball, basketball, competitive sport cheer, golf, soccer, softball, swimming & diving, track & field, boys volleyball, wrestling.
California counties have been labelled under four colored labels based on their Covid statistics. Purple is the most restrictive, then red, orange, and finally yellow, the best case scenario.
As of February 5, 2021, 54 out of the 58 counties are in the purple tier, including Solano, meaning schools in those counties would only be allowed to participate in cross country, track, tennis, and golf if the season was to commence today.
The three counties in the red tier, or with a “substantial” number of cases in their county, would be permitted to play baseball, softball and hockey. The one lone county in the orange tier, could play football,volleyball, soccer, water polo, and gymnastics. None of the counties are in the lowest tier yet, the yellow tier; however if any were to move into that tier, students could play basketball, wrestling, and competitive cheerleading.
Solano county and all counties bordering it, such as Napa County and Yolo County, are currently in the purple tier and have been in that tier since October of 2020.
These decisions are hugely impactful to all high school students, athletes or non-athletes, but especially seniors. Athletes miss out on a season, and non-athletes miss out on the opportunity to watch games.
Seniors in some scenarios will have to forgo their senior year on the field or court, losing senior night and perhaps most importantly decreasing their chance to get scholarships and college offers.
“Honestly I don’t believe any of us believed that this would go for so long,” VCS Athletic Director Mrs. Donna Hagans said, “I and my fellow athletic directors have worked on so many schedule revisions, always hoping for the best.”
“Decisions by the CIF State and our CIF Sac-Joaquin Section office are being made now as we speak that will determine our calendar,” Mrs. Hagans said.
As of the start of February, the likelihood of high contact sports such as basketball and football being played is very low, as counties would need to drop 2-3 color tiers within the next few days to weeks.
Cross country has been practicing for most schools in our county, and baseball and mens volleyball are soon to follow and have higher chances of a season then most other sports currently do in California. This is because these sports were unable to have a season last year, and the CIF doesn’t want them to miss out on two seasons.
“Not playing negatively impacts the program since players really need that court time to develop as a player,” mens varsity basketball Coach Rick Everhart said, “ and it helps you get seen by the collegiate levels.”
The lack of a decision and pushing the season back has forced some athletes into making tough decisions on what’s best for their athletic future.
Kendall Allen left VCHS the second semester to attend Scotland Campus in Pennsylvania, where he was able to play basketball.“It was tough,” Kendall said.” I did not know if I wanted to stay home and take a chance, or leave and go play immediately.”
He also reclassified as a sophomore to save some time of high school eligibility that he would have missed out on due to the cancellation of the season.
For younger athletes the decision to cancel most sports has not been as detrimental to their potential athletic careers as this can be seen as a break.
“It definitely hasn’t affected me as bad as the seniors because they should be able to play their senior year,” freshman Olivia Immel said. “I would be more upset if I was a senior and this was happening.”
The biggest thing for athletes to take out of this unfortunate situation, is to make this a minor setback, for a major improvement.