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California releases Youth Sports Guidelines tied to COVID-colored tiers

The California Department of Public Health on Monday night released youth sports guidelines outlining what sports can be played in the state’s various colored tiers as well as saying that competitions cannot begin before Jan. 25.

The guideline chart categorizes sports in California’s four colored tiers from purple (most restrictive) to red and orange to yellow (least restrictive).

Football and volleyball fall in the orange tier while baseball and softball land in red tier. Outdoor low-contact sports like golf, cross county, and swimming and diving sit in the purple tier. Basketball and wrestling are yellow-tiered sports, according to the guidelines.

Additionally, the Public Health guidelines prevent “inter-team competitions” until Jan. 25, 2021 at the earliest. All of the Northern Section, including Shasta County, is in the most restrictive purple tier.

Monday’s announcement also specified competitions would be authorized if “both teams are located in the same county” or “teams are located in immediately bordering counties and the sport is authorized in both counties.”

“That’s the biggest issue – only playing within your county or bordering counties,” Northern Section Liz Kyle said Tuesday.

She said the guidelines shouldn’t force the section or state to blow up the calendars and start from scratch.



Many North State coaches had been anxious to see what the guidelines would be, noting that without them it was hard to game-plan for a season.

“When you coach, you have a goal and we don’t have a sense of direction,” Foothill football coach Joey Brown said after the CIF announced a delay on Dec. 1. “We just want to know where we stand. Releasing (the guidelines) would be a great motivator.

“Otherwise, it’s just kicking the can down the road.”

Some other items of note from the state guidelines:

• Participants in youth and adult sports should wear face coverings when participating in the activity, even with heavy exertion.

• Immediate household members may observe practices and games as needed for age-appropriate supervision, but should be limited to ensure physical distance can be maintained.

• Limit indoor sports venue capacity for athletes, coaches and observers – 25 percent in orange; 50 percent in yellow. No guidelines for red or purple tiers.

• Teams must not participate in out-of-state tournaments.

Unlike the state CIF, the Northern Section divided its sports calendar into three seasons in order to prevent athletes from having to choose playing one sport over another. The Northern Section has the most three-sport athletes among the 10 statewide sections, as well as the most dual-sport coaches.

The tiers are based on coronavirus positivity rates per 100,000 people – purple, 8 percent or higher; red, 5 to 8 percent; orange, 2 to 4.9 percent, and yellow, less than 2 percent.

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for more than two decades. He spent eight years as the Sports Editor for the local newspaper and another four more as the voice of high school football on the radio. Williams has coached various sports at the high school level over the past decade, most recently at Shasta High.

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