In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section (CIF-SS) announced on July 20 that it is implementing a new 2020-21 sports schedule. It will be delaying fall and winter sports until the spring season and spring sports until the summer season. This postponement is a logical solution that will allow student-athletes to play sports while still taking precautions from the hazardous environment that has developed this year as a result of COVID-19 and the California wildfires.
The new schedule will prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students. Fall sports typically start practice during the summer, and according to summertime state statistics, California was and still is the most infected state in the country. At its peak, there was an average of 9,410 new cases a day. As of Oct. 1, in California the average dropped to 3,242. The stark contrast in the number of new cases clearly demonstrates that the virus was more widespread during the summer and fall, meaning that if CIF-SS had not pushed back sports seasons, athletes would be practicing in the height of COVID-19 cases. The postponement will allow the spread of COVID-19 to slow down until the sports seasons begin, making it safer for students to practice. As mask use, sanitation, and other methods of precaution will likely be implemented, students will be much less susceptible to catching the virus when sports resume.
Postponing sports to the updated schedule is a more agreeable option than canceling sports altogether in that the cancelation would have drastic consequences for sports teams. After CIF-SS canceled sports last spring, some students feared that it would cancel sports for the 2020-21 school year. In that case, sports would not be able to host games, invitationals, or fundraisers. The school takes a 30% cut of the profit from sports teams, making sports one of the main sources of revenue for the school. This lack of revenue would force the school to lay off coaches and sports teams who receive funding from school.
On top of COVID-19, many athletes, coaches, and administrators are still adjusting to the consequences of the wildfires. Numerous wildfires broke out this fall season, including the Bobcat Fire, which has spreaded across roughly 114,000 acres of the San Gabriel Mountains. As a result of the fires, the air quality in California has dramatically worsened, making it unsafe for athletes to breathe and practice. Coupled with COVID-19, athletes would have had to wear masks while simultaneously breathing in smoky air and performing vigorous activity. Not having to train for sports provides relief to students and gives coaches more time to observe the spread of both COVID-19 and the wildfires. Coaches can utilize this time to plan ahead and minimize damage to athletes.
Although postponing CIF-SS sports disallows athletes from competitively practicing sports, they are still able to maintain fitness during the quarantine. Moving sports seasons will not completely stump athletes’ progress as students can still follow a moderately intense workout routine at home, which they can obtain from their coach or a qualified person. To ensure that athletes will successfully perform in their respective sports this year, they must look forward with a positive mindset and adapt using all the available resources.