CIF Northern Section takes small step forward while club sports ruling gets reversed

Ethan Hanson
Redding Record Searchlight
John Kennedy, center, is a coach and longtime supporter of youth sports. He was one of the organizers of Friday's "Let them Play" rally in Mount Shasta.

California Interscholastic Federation officials have backtracked on allowing athletes to play both club sports and high school sports during the coronavirus pandemic, CIF officials announced Wednesday.

On the same day, CIF Northern Section officials said high school athletes will be able to compete in 2021 but only in sports allowed by state health officials during the pandemic.

The only sports that are allowed for competition right now are track and field, tennis, swimming and diving, golf and cross-country, CIF Northern Section Commissioner Liz Kyle said in an email.

Snowboarding and skiing are also allowed by state guidelines, but those sports aren't managed by CIF.

All of those sports are allowed under the purple tier based on guidelines that were released by California Department Public Health (CDPH) officials on Dec. 14, 2021.

While CIF Northern Section has approved competitions for sports allowed in the purple tier, no competitions have been formally scheduled yet. Shasta County public health officials still have to give approval before matches and meets can start. 

Shasta County is one of 54 of the state's 58 counties that are in the purple tier during the coronavirus pandemic, according to metrics from CDPH. 

The only bordering county around Siskiyou not in the purple is Trinity County, which is in the red tier. Trinity County schools like Hayfork and Trinity high schools are allowed to compete in baseball, softball and field hockey in addition to the purple-tier sports.

More:Mount Shasta athletes, parents rally to return kids back to fields, gyms

More:Young athletes and their supporters rally in Yreka to 'Let them play'

"The leadership of the Northern Section believes this revised schedule best fits the diverse needs of our member schools," Kyle stated via email. 

New CIF rules state that players and coaches have to group together with the same team in cohorts over the same period. That means athletes and coaches aren't allowed to participate on more than one team.

This walks back a ruling made in June 2020 that allowed athletes to compete in both club and high school activities.

CIF Northern Section guidelines state that teams are only allowed to compete with other schools within its county or that border its county. Shasta County schools are limited to holding meets and matches with teams in Trinity, Tehama, Lassen and Plumas counties.

"It is our hope that this will allow all our student-athletes the opportunity to participate in the sports they are so passionate about, even in this year of uncertainty and great sacrifice," Kyle said via email. 

Ethan Hanson started working for the Redding Record Searchlight after four years with the Los Angeles Daily News as a freelancer. His coverage includes working the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament in South Bend, Indiana, and writing about the St. Louis Rams' move to Los Angeles with the Ventura County Star. He began his career as a play-by-play broadcaster for LA Pierce College from 2011-2017. Follow him on Twitter at @EthanAHanson_RS.