There was more COVID chaos over the weekend as the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League, which had voted last month not to send any league teams to the Central Coast Section playoffs, reversed course Friday — just in time to have nine tennis teams qualify for the 24-team CCS bracket which began Monday.

The SCVAL was accused with a Brown Act violation during the April meeting during which the league voted to opt out of CCS playoffs. Additionally, the league was facing a possible lawsuit, which brought the board of managers back to the table where they overturned the original decision and will send teams to the playoffs.

Now, there is a renewed, aggressive push from parents and athletes in the Peninsula Athletic League, in general, and the Sequoia Union High School District, in particular, to rethink the decisions not to send some sports teams to the CCS playoffs.

The SUHSD voted to opt out of the playoff altogether, while the PAL voted to opt out of the basketball and soccer playoffs, only.

“I’ve gotten some emails,” said Melissa Schmidt, Sequoia High School athletic director and the lead person for sports in the SUHSD. “There are certainly parents who are advocating that [the district] reconsiders the decision (to opt out of CCS).

“I understand why people would like us to reconsider. … I really felt we made the right decision (then) and now it feels different.”

The PAL still intends to let league schools send teams to traditional spring-sports playoffs — the reason being those sports missed the CCS playoffs in 2020 because of COVID.

There is still time for districts and leagues to change their stance on many of the sports that still have playoffs coming up. The CCS basketball tournament doesn’t begin until June 4, while baseball scheduled for a June 7 start and softball later that week.

Soccer, however, may be the odd-sport out. The CCS seeding meeting for boys’ and girls’ soccer is Thursday, with first-round games beginning Saturday.

Think there is enough time for league and districts boards to get together and clear teams by Wednesday?

“If this meeting of the PAL does happen, you send basketball and miss soccer (playoffs)?” said Steve Sell, Aragon AD and CCS president.

There is a yet another wrench to be thrown into the works: to qualify for the CCS soccer brackets means the PAL would have cut its regular season early — lopping off the final three games of the regular season, much as PAL tennis had the final six matches of its regular season cut to be eligible for the start of CCS. The PAL would not be allowed to send some teams to the playoffs while the rest of the league continues its season. Either the PAL plays out the season and skips the playoffs, or opts into the playoffs and sees the regular-season end Thursday.

“Our position with the section is we played soccer out of season and moved it to a later start date. We have already told the section [the PAL is] not playing,” Sell said.

At this point, it seems districts and leagues — and more importantly parents and athletes — have to accept the idea that while the pandemic is subsiding, athletics is still being played by COVID rules and there needs to be some kind of equity, no matter how skewed it may seem. The SUHSD can’t now decide to send basketball teams to CCS after missing the deadline for boys’ tennis and soccer. At some point, the decision has to stand.

“There are a ton of reasons that that decision was made at the district level. Many of those things haven’t changed,” Schmidt said.

Added Sell: “Those logistical challenges at the end of the school year are real.”

Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: Nathan@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: 650-344-5200 ext. 117. Results and statistics can be emailed to: sports@smdailyjournal.com.

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(1) comment

John Baker

I can sorta, maybe(?) understand the rationale for basketball (indoors, close quarters), but why not soccer? It's outdoors, lots of ventilation, with stands big enough, generally, for social distancing.

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