A week ago the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section announced that post-season championships have been cancelled for the fall season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The discouraging news came just days before the governing body for high school sports announced that several sports have been given the green light to get underway this week.
Those are encouraging words to athletic directors like South Pasadena High’s Anthony Chan, anxious to get the sports scene on campus moving again.
Stay-at-home orders in California were lifted Monday, allowing outdoor sports under the purple tier — the most restrictive — to begin for the first time since March after being halted as a result of COVID-19. Golf, cross-country, and tennis are eligible to compete under the order, while soccer, football and most indoor sports are still sidelined.
Safety guidelines will be strongly enforced as student athletes must adhere to health official warnings, including social distancing, staying six feet apart and the wearing of masks being among the strict protocols.
Chan said efforts will continue to allow all student-athletes to safely condition and train “at our facilities as soon as we can,” noting that pods have been setup to address health issues. “At this time, we are going to have teams returning throughout the month of February. We hope to move towards full combined practices to prepare for matches at some point. We don’t know when that might be, but we will prepare and condition should we be able to play matches. The league will be putting together a different schedule that moves league matches into the calendar where Section and Regional/State playoffs would have been.”
The SPHS athletic director — like student-athletes and coaches — looks forward to the day competitive play can finally get underway, but still cautions proper steps must be taken. “It is our district’s goal to get these students outside and to exercise in a safe way,” he said. “It is good for physical and mental health. I will continue to advocate and look for ways for us to compete, but with many of those who have expressed their frustrations to our programs about playing matches: it takes two to tango. We can only play if others will play as well. We still have a variety of rules to follow, and can be subject to sanctions if we break them.”
CIF has made it clear that unsanctioned games are subject to fines, suspension and dismissal from its membership.
“That being said,” added Chan, “I am still hopeful we may have some matches that are sanctioned. However, we will not be looking to do anything unsanctioned.”
Chan is hopeful the pandemic will soon be just a memory — and a bad one at that — when teams are practicing and competing again throughout the school’s revamped athletic department, as the sounds of cheering fans return. “The vaccines have given us a lot of hope,” he said. “I am uncertain if we will have everyone vaccinated by the end of the school year, but I would imagine our healthcare system would be able to have it done by next school year.”
While the stay-at-home order has been lifted, the SPHS athletic director insists, “We all need to do our part. Stay at home as much as possible, get vaccinated when it is available, and take the pressure off of our healthcare system. I want our student-athletes to stay ready and I’m hoping that we may return to some competitions.”