Uncertainty Continues to Loom Over Fall Sports at SPHS

CIF-Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod is expected to make a key announcement regarding the immediate future of high school athletics July 20 in face of the coronavirus outbreak

FILE PHOTOS: Eric Fabbro | SouthPasadenan.com News | Fall Sports 2019 ( L-R ) : Alyssa Sokolow, Varsity Volleyball; Ivan Estrada, Varsity Football; Eddie Lane-Flannigan, Varsity Water Polo

As uncertainty continues, some South Pasadena High athletes have begun zoom workouts in anticipation to what they hope will be a fall season amidst rising numbers of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County.

Earlier this month CIF-Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod said a key announcement regarding the immediate future of high school athletics will be made by July 20 in face of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We continue to monitor the directives and guidelines released from the Governor’s Office, the California Department of Education and State/Local County health departments and agencies as these directives and guidelines are followed by our member schools/school districts when they are planning when and how to reopen school this fall,” said Wigod in a statement.

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Listening to Wigod, South Pasadena High Athletic Director Anthony Chan said the school must adhere to the health guidelines administered by the LA County Office of Education, adding that there are more consideration than CIF before getting teams back on fields, courts and trails, as in cross country. Other sports anxious to go are football, boys’ water polo, girls’ tennis and volleyball.

“That being said, we are all interested in finding some way to have athletics,” explained Chan.  “It is an important part to having a comprehensive high school experience for our students, but we have to keep their health and safety first.”

The SPHS athletic director wonders like others whether or not Friday Night Lights will be returning with fans sitting at a safe distance in the stands to take in a football game. Good question. School District officials don’t yet know if students will be returning to the physical campus or continuing distance-learning put into place in March to complete the 2019-20 academic year.

“I do not have an answer to this,” said Chan when asked when football practice will begin inside Ray Solari Stadium in anticipation to a potential season. “We have had some online workouts and are hoping that we are able to have a season.  A consideration to the season would be whether other teams are having their season, as other teams may cancel on us.”

In limbo until there’s a clear definition on which direction fall sports programs are headed, Chan said he watches Zoom workouts, recognizing the frustration South Pasadena High student-athletes feel when COVID-19 is keeping them away from a normal workout schedule. In the meantime, he continues to stress the importance players getting or staying in top shape.

Among his go-to quotes to those wearing SPHS uniforms is “Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.”

He also spends his day keeping up with news articles and updates on the high school sports scene while communicating with Rio Hondo League officials.

The coronavirus doesn’t seem be going away soon, especially in Los Angeles County where, as of Wednesday, it has more cases than any other county in the country where more than 88,500 residents have been diagnosed with the disease, followed by 87,700 in Cook County, Illinois and Queens in New York City with 64,000.

“We have been working on our protocols for all of our fall teams should we have practice,” explained Chan. “We have combined both CIF and NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) recommendations for specific sports and come up with rules from the moments that student-athletes would arrive to having them leave in a designated area.  In terms of spectators, we have considered our options as well, including trying to find live streams of contests. However, this is all contingent on having the season.”

Chan, like the many athletes at South Pasadena High, can only hope the situation will improve to the point the fall season will go on as scheduled while health officials leave doubt. “Our job and our calling is to keep as many people as safe as possible during this pandemic,” said LA County’s Department of Public Health Dr. Barbara Ferrer, who has received death threats over the pandemic. “While frustration boils over in our communities as people are done with this virus, this virus is not done with us.”