To no one’s surprise, the organization that governs high school sports in the state announced Monday morning that fall sports will be delayed until late December and early January because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The California Interscholastic Federation’s decision will have a ripple effect on winter and spring sports, which also will be pushed back and now run concurrently in the spring of 2021.
The Sac-Joaquin Section – which features 198 schools (including Denair High School) and more than 250,000 student athletes from Sacramento and Napa to Merced – said it will begin volleyball and cross country Dec. 28. The first football games will be Jan. 8.
Under the new calendar, Section championships for fall sports would be held in March and April, and for winter and spring sports in May and June.
“It is going to take some work putting together schedules and transportation, but we are dedicated to our athletes and will do our best based on what was announced today,” said Melissa Treadwell, Denair High’s athletic director.
Of course, if the virus continues to spread in California, there is a possibility that sports seasons could be wiped out altogether. That was the case last spring after students across the state were sent home in mid-March for the remainder of the school year. Spring sports were cancelled April 3.
COVID-19 already is having a huge impact on education. The Denair Unified School District – like all other public and private schools in Stanislaus County – will begin the 2020-21 school year on Aug. 12 under a distance learning format at all grade levels. Students and teachers will interact remotely via computer until county health officials deem it safe to return to class. With Stanislaus County among the hot spots in California, that date is uncertain.
Denair football coach Anthony Armas said Monday’s announcement was not a shock.
“I think most of us thought that sports would be pushed back,” said Armas, who broke the news to his players via a Google Hangouts video meeting. “It’s not a huge surprise, but it’s definitely going to be different. But we've been dealing with ‘different’ for four months now. We’ll figure it out.”
“There is no easy answer,” added Denair volleyball coach Christy North.
Players in fall sports, plus cheerleaders, had been allowed to begin outside conditioning drills in June with appropriate social distancing, but that was cancelled last week because of Stanislaus County’s rising coronavirus case numbers.
Also Monday, the CIF also suspended bylaws for this school year that prohibit students from participating on private traveling clubs squads while they play for their high school teams.