By Tom Bequette, Online Sports Editor
// After nearly four months of anticipation, high school sports are officially scheduled to return to Acalanes High School.
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) confirmed on Monday, July 20, that high school sports will take place during the 2020-2021 school year, and fall sports are expected to return in mid-December. This is the first potential return date set for high school sports since the CIF officially canceled all spring sports on April 3.
Due to an ongoing spike in COVID-19 cases, the CIF concluded that high school sports could not take place in the fall. Rather than canceling fall sports, the CIF pushed back the fall, winter, and spring seasons and decided to combine the winter and spring seasons. These changes will result in a fall season that begins in early December and a combined winter and spring season starting in mid-March or early April that may continue into the summer.
Additionally, each sport’s regular season will be shortened, but the number of games that each team plays will remain the same.
“We tried hard to maintain the integrity of each sport’s season; however, this was difficult due to the shortened time frame that we are confined to. We hope that this allows for schools to play a full schedule, albeit in a smaller window,” North Coast Section commissioner Pat Cruickshank said to Blueprint.
In order to shorten the season as much as possible without canceling any major events, the CIF decided to streamline their regional and state championships, fitting both into one week instead of the usual two-week break between the two events.
“To make sure that the fall and spring sports did not overlap into one another, the regional and state championships had to be condensed. It’s unfortunate, but it’s ultimately the right decision for our athletes,” Cruikshank said.
The CIF also plans to release updated social distancing guidelines for practices and games leading up to the fall season.
“The CIF Sports Medicine Advisory Committee will be working hard on figuring out the safest possible way for sports to proceed, as the safety of our students and coaches is always our main priority,” Cruickshank said.
For now, public health officials will assist coaches in deciding the safest and most effective approach for their team during summer practices. The CIF’s summer guidelines currently prohibit contact drills and sharing certain equipment.
“Over the summer, the football team has divided itself into groups of 12 players. The coaches make sure that we are properly socially distancing. We also took weights out of our school gym and brought them onto the field, which helped with distancing,” rising senior and varsity football player Dane Jenssen said.
However, the CIF emphasizes that these plans are subject to change as the COVID-19 situation progresses.
“It is of vital importance that as our circumstances inevitably change during the year, that we are creative, flexible and that we keep adapting to new challenges as they come so that we can best serve our student-athletes,” Cruickshank said.
Some students remain hopeful that by the time high school sports start up again, COVID-19 will have subsided enough for a regular season.
“Hopefully, by the time January comes around, this virus will be drastically reduced and we can safely play,” rising senior and varsity football player Niko Cortessis said. “But even if it isn’t, I still think that the CIF made a good decision on pushing the season back because I think that we probably need sports now more than ever.”
Overall, many student-athletes are pleased with the CIF’s decision.
“I’m really glad they made that decision. It will be nice to see my friends again, and it should be a welcome distraction from everything else that is going on in the world right now,” rising junior and track player Aidan Shvo said.