News last week that sports seasons in California will be delayed due to the coronavirus has “really turned the wheels of the high school athletic world,” said South Pasadena High Athletic Director Anthony Chan, who will have his hands full juggling it all once play begins later this year.
Last Monday, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced that the fall athletic season will be pushed to December or January, giving athletes their best opportunity to have a sports season during the 2020-2021 school year.
CIF, noted Chan, is trying its best to keep seasons for all sports without heavily shortening them. Each season, he explained, will be roughly between nine and 10 weeks before playoffs, with all programs falling in either the fall season, which starts in December, or spring season beginning in March.
“In examining the most effective way to deliver Fall, Winter and Spring sports for the 2020-2021 school year, the decision was made to condense three seasons of sport into two seasons of sport, primarily to help with the spacing between particular sports and the overlap of certain sports between seasons,” explained CIF-SS Commissioner of Athletics Rob Wigod in a statement.
In football, for instance, the CIF-Southern Section, which South Pasadena High is a member, it means practices will begin December 14 with games beginning January 8.
“Regular seasons, some of which were 83 days (soccer), 81 (basketball), 64 days (football) and 57 days (girls volleyball) already had quite a range, in terms of the length of their seasons in previous years,” explained Wigod in the statement. “We believe that to help with the overlap of seasons, affecting student-athletes, coach and facilities, we would standardize the length of the regular seasons to approximately 72 days, for those who previously had more days than that, while leaving the others with less than 72 days alone. In doing so, we would help with the issues mentioned, but keep in mind that we are not imposing any reduction on the maximum number of allowable contests, per CIF Bylaw 1206, in any sport. The total number of days in some sports will be reduced, approximately 5%-12%, but schools can still play the same number of maximum contests, if they choose, in that small window.”
On a positive note, Wigod said the 2020-2021 sports calendar includes full championship experiences, “meaning the same number of champions in each sport, the same number of divisions in each sport and the same number of guaranteed entries from leagues advancing to the playoffs in each sport, as in previous years.”
With a mix of sports happening over two seasons, both boys’ and girls’ teams sharing the same space for games and workouts, it could create a logistical nightmare for athletic directors like Chan. “There are still a lot of questions to be answered in planning our seasons,” he said in wake of the CIF’s major announcement. “The league athletic directors will be working this week to hash out schedules and foreseeable issues.”
Student-athletes and coaches who take part in two sports during the year or might have an overlapping club sport will be faced with a difficult decision of what sport to play. “Coaches have already begun listing their multi-sport athletes so we can try our best to find ways to accommodate,” said Chan.
“I appreciate CIF’s leadership in making a decision on the calendar and giving local area athletics a direction,” said Chan. “Ultimately, I think the safety of our students and student-athletes is paramount, and their calendar gives us time to return when appropriate.”
Like most schools in the state, South Pasadena High will return to distance-learning in the fall as coronavirus cases continue to surge, forcing online instruction. More than 1,000 deaths were reported Tuesday in the United States, the first time since June 2 when 1,052 fatalities were announced.
Combining three seasons – fall, winter and spring – into two seems to be a reasonable solution during these unprecedented times, believes Chan, saying: “I am excited to continue to showcase our great athletic programs in the 2020-2021 school year and continue to build on the progress our teams have made. I encourage our student-athletes to continue to stay in-shape and prepare. I also commend the community in fundraising for PPEs (personal protective equipment) and following health guidelines. Together we can bring our numbers (of COVID-19 cases) down to a manageable level so we can find ways to return to some form of normalcy.”