The announcement Tuesday that the California Interscholastic Federation was canceling its regional and state championship tournaments for eight sports was big news for fans of high school athletics.
The reasoning behind the CIF’s decision was because a lack of updated guidelines from the California Department of Public Health, but also to benefit the student-athletes themselves. By canceling the state tournaments, it frees up more time for schools to have more games played.
“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 postseason play for a limited number of schools,” the CIF said in a press release on its website.
In addition, the CIF put a halt to any plans of starting practice and/or games in December and said the next update would not be until after the new year.
But to some local coaches, it’s really not that big a deal.
“To be honest, it doesn’t affect anything we’re doing now,” said Jeff Scheller, San Mateo football coach and athletic director, as well as the San Mateo Union High School District return-to-play committee chairman.
“Some people called it a gut punch, but it’s more just wind out of our sails. I still feel like there is time (to play some kind of season) for all sports.”
Scheller said schools in the SMUHSD are back to simple conditioning training and that all sports-specific practice has been curtailed.
“We’re back to square one and we anticipate being at square one for a while,” Scheller said.
Despite the CIF canceling its playoffs, the chance to play league and Central Coast Section playoff games remains and that’s what coaches and administrators are really looking to accomplish during the 2020-21 school year.
“The people in my sphere are just more concerned about getting games in,” said Melissa Schmidt, Sequoia girls’ soccer coach, athletic director and who has been working with the Sequoia Union High School District in its return-to-play plan.
“What [the CIF decision] does is, it gives us a little more time to get (the season) started (and a little more time to complete a season). I think it’s a really good thing. I don’t think it was realistic to think people were going to be traveling across the state of California to play a football game.”
Steve Sell, Aragon football coach, athletic director and CCS president, said while many questions still remain, at least families know that they can make holiday plans without worrying about athletes having to attend practices.
But there are still a lot of questions that weren’t answered like a potential start date, what sports can be played in what tier and if fans can watch games. Both Sell and Schmidt were disappointed there wasn’t more clarity about those.
“No. No way,” Schmidt said when asked if the CIF announcement answers those other questions. “Because there is still no start date (to a season).”
She went on to say she has seen a leaked copy of the return-to-sports guidelines that Gov. Gavin Newsom has reportedly signed off on, but still have not released the details to the public. Schmidt said sports are tied to the colored tiers the state is using to determine the level of activity allowed during the pandemic.
“If you look at it, it’s exactly what I would have drawn up,” Schmidt said. “But my thing is, why not release it? We all understand that being able to have a start date is a moving target, but at least let us know what you’re measuring that with.”
Sell was also disappointed not to get more clarification.
“Trust me. On Jan. 1, people are going to be saying, ‘What’s the update?’” Sell said. “I was really hoping [the state] would say something this week. … It would have been nice to see what the guidelines were going to be. What sports can be played in what tier. Something that talks about fans.
“People are just looking for information so they can make plans.”