Are you ready for some football? Springtime style – that is, as California Governor Gavin Newsom has cleared the way for high school sports to begin under guidelines instituted by state’s Department of Public Health.
The announcement comes as welcome news to South Pasadena High’s Athletic Director Anthony Chan, who has put in long hours on the job preparing for the oddest of all seasons ahead.
Who is playing when and where is just the start, Chan saying, “The schedules are starting to finalize after many revisions.”
Some outdoor sports have already been played in the Rio Hondo League, which SPHS is a member of, including tennis and cross country, but with Newsom’s announcement comes word that indoor athletics could not be far behind.
Guidance, according to a statement issued by the CDPH, has been updated to authorize any youth or adult recreational sports team, including indoor sports, to begin practice with contact and competition at any time if they adhere to the specific requirements applicable to college sports under the COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Institutions of Higher Education.
“Our top priority is supporting youth sports to safely return to play, guided by science,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer in the message. “Our previous guidance accomplished this by allowing competition in sports with lower risk of transmission to begin sooner if conducted outdoors, which is lower risk than indoors.”
To return to fields and court, the CDPH insists teams must adhere to the stricter requirements already in place at the college level, which have been subjected to rigorous testing requirements around each competition for contact sports, the statement making it clear that teams in all sports “must have contact tracing protocols in place and coordinate with local health authorities, and all teams must develop site-specific plans for each facility the team uses, among other requirements not applicable to youth and recreational teams.”
For South Pasadena High’s football team it simply means Friday Night Lights and the excitement typically reserved for the fall will only change seasons, but is back. The Tigers have a scheduled scrimmage against Pasadena Poly March 12 and travel to La Cañada High March 19 for their first official contest.
While teams are in training on campus, there’s certain awkwardness to it all as students remain home in a virtual classroom setting.
“It is great news,” said Chan about Tiger players return to the gridiron. “I am hopeful that we will continue getting more people vaccinated and that we can return to a sense of normalcy. On my end, it’s much harder to try to navigate when we are somewhat open and somewhat closed. I’m hoping that we can get back to normal as soon as possible and to give our students a chance to enjoy athletics the way it is meant to be enjoyed.”
When indoor sports like volleyball, wrestling and basketball will resume is still in question, but they have been placed in the yellow tier, or minimal risk of contracting the virus. “Indoor sports must adhere to all requirements applicable to college sports, which includes testing, contact tracing, and other requirements, if they resume contact practice and competition earlier than the yellow tier,” reads the statement issued by the CDPH.
For Chan it simply means a sense of normalcy is returning following a tumultuous 12 months without high school sports amid some crushing totals, including more than 3.5 million coronavirus cases in the state and nearly 54 million deaths.
“It’s been a crazy, crazy year,” he said. “I’m completely exhausted trying to make everything happen, and so is everyone else, but it is all worth it when you see the kids preparing for a competition and competing.”
Throughout it all, Chan has urged Tiger student-athletes to “stay ready” – urging them to workout, train and be prepared for sports to someday resume. “Now it’s time for us to show the work we have put in during virtual workouts in the summer and then the restrictive in-person training,” he said. “I think it will pay off and put our kids in a position to succeed. For the parents, I am so thankful for the consistent support and for the trust that they have in our athletic program, school, and district.”
And, Chan insists, the return of sports to South Pasadena High comes down to a collective effort. “Things are not done by one person,” he maintains, “but by the contributions of many. Thank you Tiger Family!”