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CIF pushes back practice start-dates, eliminates state championships

The California Interscholastic Federation on Tuesday announced practices that were scheduled to start in the upcoming weeks will be pushed back until after the New Year as the state grapples with escalating COVID-19 cases. Additionally, the state hasn’t released Youth Sports Guidelines, a crucial step for the CIF to resume sports for the first time since the end of last basketball season.

“Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 infections, the California Department of Public Health has  postponed the issuance of its updated youth sports guidance. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) does not expect the CDPH will issue any guidance allowing for schools to return to full practice and competition until after January 1, 2021, at the earliest. Thus, all full practice and competition start dates are officially on hold until updated guidance is issued,” the CIF wrote in a press release.

Football practice in the Northern Section was slated to begin Dec. 7 but Tuesday’s announcement postpones that for the second time as many teams have been “summer-like” conditioning programs for the past few months.

Additionally, the state’s announcement eliminated all Regional and State Championships from the Season 1 sports calendar that included football. Few Northern Section schools opted into the state’s championship two-season model, choosing instead to play three seasons in order to avoid forcing student-athletes to choose one sport over another. Additionally, the section also has the largest number of dual-sport coaches that would be affected by the state’s two-season model.

“By canceling Regional and State Championship events, more student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a longer season, rather than a truncated season with Regional and State post-season play for a limited number of schools,” the CIF statement read.

The State Department of Health was set to release youth sports guidelines on Nov. 13, but held off after a surge in coronavirus cases across the state forced Gov. Gavin Newsom to reclassify many counties in more restrictive tiers. A surge has now seen 52 of the 58 California counties wind up in the purple tier.

“The CIF is confident this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities in light of the current statewide crisis,” the press release read. “This revision to the CIF State 2020-21 Season 1 Sports calendar offers our Sections and Leagues the flexibility and needed time to plan for the return to practice and competition once updated guidance is provided by the CDPH.”

Aaron Williams has been involved in the North State sports scene for nearly 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, and is also the public address announcer for the Shasta College football and basketball teams.

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