While there is still much to be figured out in the next few months regarding high school athletics reopening amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a few guidelines came into clearer focus at Wednesday’s Northern Section executive committee teleconference meeting.
East Nicolaus High Athletic Director Neil Stinson said the individual seasons have essentially been dropped this year, replacing the three modified seasons with the color tiered system.
“We don’t have defined sport seasons,” Stinson said.
Stinson offered up a hypothetical scenario that if the state permitted sports to begin
Feb. 15 and the county was in the yellow tier every sport would be allowed to begin.
“For a small school that would not work (because) it is only one team at a time,” Stinson said.
Stinson said the state public health department said an athlete has to choose one sport this year.
That also applies to travel teams as well, which Stinson said is a setback from what the state said earlier in the year.
Initially, Stinson said the California Interscholastic Federation was going to permit athletes to compete for a school and travel team at the same time.
Stinson surmised that the reasoning behind the change is to limit the interaction between players going from club to school sports.
He also said that when and if the state and county health departments give the green light to high school competitions that no schools in the Northern Section would be able to play a complete league schedule in any sport this season.
Sutter Athletic Director Rick Giovannoni said at this point it is solely about trying to schedule some competitions within a school’s county and neighboring county.
Once border counties are approved by county health, schools in Sutter County can schedule competitions against Yuba, Placer, Yolo, Colusa and Butte County.
The state will make a decision on Monday, Jan. 25 as to whether to move forward with reopening.
However, Colusa Athletic Director Eric Lay noted that there was some indication that the Jan. 25 date could be pushed back.
“Then you’re back to square one, really,” Lay said.
Lay said the feeling he got was that individual schools and districts have been given clearance to do what sports they can, when they can do it.
For Colusa, Lay said that would mean a tentative time table of around Feb. 1 when cross country and golf competitions can possibly take place.
Cross country, golf, skiing/snowboarding, swimming & diving, tennis and track and field are the only sports allowed while the county is in the purple tier.
Giovannoni said if cross country is permitted to open in the next few weeks, a race will not include more than two teams.
“As of right now there is no competition larger than two schools,” he said.
He said every county has to get permission from its health department and have a COVID plan in place if someone tests positive before any competitions can begin.
“Realistic time frame is Feb. 1 or later for cross country,” he said. “That would be our first competition in 11 months.”