New CIF guidelines delay anticipated sports season debut


Photo provided by Northwood Cross-Country

ONE STEP AT A TIME: The Girls cross-country team does team stretches, six feet apart, prior to the start of their first meet.

Arya Bhattacharjee, Staff Writer

Recent announcements from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) have stated that most fall season playoffs have been cancelled due to the increasingly strict regulations imposed by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

According to CIF commissioner Rob Wigod, the primary reason that the fall season playoffs have been cancelled is because not enough progress has been made for the fall season of sports to even start. This is in addition to the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout California, with 99.9% of the population falling within the CDPH’s purple category.

CIF has stated that in order for high school athletes to be able to participate in Interscholastic sanctioned sports once again, the CDPH COVID-19 rating for each county must be at or lower than the required rating for the sport. On Jan. 21, a list of all sports with their respective color tier was released by the CIF, revealing that most of the sports fell under the purple tier, with a few higher risk sports, including basketball and wrestling, reaching the orange and yellow tiers.

Sports such as football, cheerleading and water polo all are facing the effects of these updated guidelines. Organizations such as USA Water Polo have called to adjust their sport’s CDPH category, especially considering that water polo has over 65% of their athletes residing in California. Even though the season of Boys and Girls Water Polo continues to play out, official games and meets are yet to be played.

“CIF decided to restructure sports and create a ‘Finter’ sports schedule which combined Boys and Girls Water Polo into the same season,” Boys and Girls Water Polo head coach Kyle Kim-E said. “As COVID-19 got worse, we were limited on what we could do. Slowly,  it became clear that we couldn’t play in games.”

An additional press release from CIF laid out guidelines for the upcoming sports seasons as of Jan. 26. In order to allow for more authorized sports events, they are looking to incorporate standard COVID-19 prevention procedures into the sports themselves, such as wearing masks and socially distancing, all under the guidance of the Executive Director Ronald W. Nocetti.

“As COVID-19 transmission rates are rising significantly in California, communities across the state must continue to take measures to limit the spread of the virus,” Nocetti said. “This is the way to ensure the best chance for CIF competition to commence by January 25, as allowed by the guidance from the California Department of Public Health.”

These guidelines were put in place during a cross-country meet held at Arnold O. Beckman High School on Feb. 6. While in most cases the meet was similar to those held in past years, certain key changes were implemented, such as the noticeably smaller course, confined to the campus itself, and a limit to the number of athletes racing, down to only 20 people at once. When not racing, students were instructed to wear a mask at all times and avoid physical contact with one another.

“The safety protocols were pretty good,” cross-country runner junior Justin Lee said. “There were designated arrival and departure times which helped to minimize the amount of people on campus, but we couldn’t watch other races.”

Other regions in California have also taken steps to allow for competitions and meets to resume, as seen with Sacramento’s CIF sanctioned track meet on Jan. 25. This meet was the first of its kind since the beginning of the stay-at-home order 10 months ago. The meet followed safety guidelines listed out in the press release; however, CIF still acknowledges that this was an exception to the strict monitoring of events.

As CIF seasons one and two begin, it is in every athlete’s best interest to follow all COVID-19 guidelines, in order to prevent the spread of the disease as much as possible.

“I found that what I missed most was the companionship that I felt while playing alongside my teammates,” Boys Lacrosse player junior Brandon Ta said. “I have taken for granted the times that I get to spend practicing and playing with my teammates, so I look forward to being able to cherish those moments again.”