California high school sports delayed until at least December, officials say

CIF said it is anticipated that most section start dates will begin in December 2020 or January 2021.

ByJosh Haskell and staff KABC logo
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
CIF postpones high school sports amid pandemic
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced they will be delaying education-based athletics for the 2020-2021 school year.

SACRAMENTO (KABC) -- The California Interscholastic Federation announced Monday that all high school sports will be delayed until at least December.

CIF, the governing body for high school sports in California, and its 10 sections, determined that "education-based athletics" for the 2020-2021 school year will start on a modified schedule, according to a news release.

Following Monday's announcement, each section office will release their own calendar "to reflect regular season starting and ending dates and Section playoffs."

CIF said it is anticipated that most section start dates will begin in December 2020 or January 2021.

The decision comes as most California high school districts are preparing to start the year with online classes only due to coronavirus concerns.

Los Angeles student athletes react to delay of high-school sports season

Student athletes and parents at Los Angeles schools are expressing a mix of disappointment and understanding at news the fall school sports season will be postponed because of coronavirus.

"We are continuously monitoring the directives and guidelines released from the Governor's Office, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and local county health departments and agencies as these directives and guidelines are followed by our member schools/school districts with student health and safety at the forefront. As these guidelines change, CIF Sections may allow for athletic activity to potentially resume under the summer period rules of the local Section. Also, given this calendar change, the CIF has temporarily suspended Bylaws 600-605 (Outside Competition) in all sports for the 2020-21 school year," according to the news release.

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Students of color and low-income families are taking hits on all fronts during the COVID-19 pandemic, including when it comes to distance learning.

In Los Angeles, student athletes and their parents expressed mixed feelings about the delay.

"I was really looking forward to trying out," said Sebastian Sayes, an incoming freshman at Canoga Park High School. "But at the same time, that gives me more of an opportunity to work out."

Sayes says although he wishes he could participate in extracurricular sports, he understands why a full contact sport like football isn't safe with COVID-19 surging in Southern California.

"I have asthma," he said. "Also, I really don't know how the other parents are keeping their kids safe. I don't think it would be good for this year to play football."

More than 800,000 athletes in California partake in CIF sports. Although most schools will begin the year online, that may change if the virus is better controlled.

CIF's decision to push back all sports with each of the 10 sections releasing their own calendar doesn't count out sports for the school year, although some are skeptical.

Jake Downey has been covering CIF sports since 1995 and his son plays water polo and volleyball at Notre Dame High School.

"My concern is not even that this would be a bad decision, but I think they're saying nothing till December and then when we get to December, they're going to kick the can further down the road," Downey said. "These microscopic terrorists that are affecting our lives are ever present and they need to do the safe thing - as much as we miss sports."

"I especially feel for the seniors who don't get another bite of this apple," Downey added. "This is their last chance. Whatever sport you play, you always remember your senior year of high school sports."

In order for practice to resume in December, school facilities will likely need to open and that will depend on local health departments granting approval.