Wait continues for high school sports in California

Scott Linesburgh/The Record
California Interscholastic Federation.

High school sports will not be returning in 2020, and the future is looking murkier than ever.

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has ruled out a return to full practice and competition for high schools until after Jan. 1, 2021.

The California Department of Public Health has postponed the issuance of its updated youth sports guidance because of the continued surge in COVID-19 cases. The CIF reacted Tuesday by pushing back activities in their 10 sections, which includes the Northern Section.

The CIF also announced it is removing all regional and state championship events from the Season 1 calendar, which would have started for some sports later this month. Boys volleyball is being moved to Season 2 in the spring.

"The CIF is confident this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities in light of the current statewide crisis," the statement read. "This revision to the CIF State 2020-21 Season 1 Sports calendar offers our Sections and Leagues the flexibility and needed time to plan for the return to practice and competition once updated guidance is provided by the CDPH."

The CIF statement also said that by canceling regional and state championship events, more student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a longer season, rather than a truncated season with regional and state post-season play for a limited number of schools.

The CIF's decision isn't a surprise, considering the continued spread of the coronavirus.

Mount Shasta Bears Marcus Delgado, left, and Gaspar Rodriguez are expected to form a formidable running back tandem for the Bears this season.

CIF Northern Section Commissioner Liz Kyle said in mid-November she expected the 2020-21 sports season would be delayed again after Gov. Gavin Newsom and Dr. Mark Ghaly from the California Department of Public Health set an "emergency brake" on reopening the state's economy due to COVID-19.

"We can't start anything, practice or competition until the California Department of Public Health allows it," Kyle said at the time. 

She stressed the importance of following guidelines like wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distancing and avoiding gatherings outside households to reduce exposure to the illness.

"Your behavior has some impact on the situation and we all have an individual responsibility for the decisions we make," Kyle said. "If each of us makes the right decision, the numbers would go down, we would slow the spread and athletics would come back."

The CIF governs 1,605 member schools, and more than 800,000 student-athletes.

Record Searchlight sports reporter Ethan Hanson contributed to this report.

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