With California’s COVID-19 cases only rising, the state is left with the decision of how to ensure its high school student-athletes get to play. Although full practices were scheduled to start for Season 1 sports on Dec. 14, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) recently put a hold on all start dates. So, as the first semester of the 2020-21 school year comes to an end, California’s student-athletes are no closer to playing than they were in August. This is not a good thing.
Still, the CIF is only following the California Department of Public Health (CDPH), who, after issuing guidance for youth sports on July 30, has failed to provide any updated guidance since. Indeed, there are more timely and vital issues the CDPH must resolve than youth sports. Of course, youth sports should not and cannot be the state’s first priority. However, with over 800,000 student-athletes across California, a resolution is needed nonetheless.
For high school sports to move forward, positive guidance from the CDPH is needed. According to the CIF, the CDPH is not expected to “issue any guidance […] until Jan. 1, 2021, at the earliest.” While such expectation is promising, new CDPH guidance has the potential to postpone California’s athletic season even longer. In their press release on Dec. 12, the CDPH noted that “California is experiencing the fastest increase in cases we have seen yet.” With the number of COVID-19 cases only increasing, it would be reasonable for the CDPH’s long-awaited youth sports guidance to simply continue the current stall.
Despite the pandemic, most states were able to play high school sports this fall. On the one hand, the success of other states provides hope for California’s student-athletes. On the other hand, California is not those other states. California has had more COVID-19 cases than any other state.
At this point, new direction is needed to save another year of high school sports from falling apart. The CDPH needs to issue new guidance if its student-athletes are to get a chance to play.
*This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop editorial board and was written by Miles Ozorio.