California Pauses High School Sports Through Jan. 1; Water Polo Playoffs Cancelled

Photo Courtesy: SMCHS Athletics Twitter (@SMCHSAthletics)

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) has postponed issuing updated guidance on high school sports in the state until at least Jan. 1, 2021.

The resumption of full practices and competitions is on hold until then, the CIF said in its declaration on Tuesday. The CIF is waiting on the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to issue guidance about schools and youth sports. One of the compensations to these changes is to cancel state and regional championships in “Season 1” sports, the normal fall sports, to offer more schedule flexibility. Water polo is among those sports.

In July, the CIF announced a delay to the scholastic sports season through the end of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, aimed at formal guidance providing direction toward the end of the calendar year. Those decisions set a backstop date to academic year in late June, moving back spring sports like swimming and diving several weeks to accommodate postponed fall and winter sports, in effect three seasons in the first six months of 2021. That guidance has been delayed as case counts surge in the state.

According to the CIF website, the state swimming championships remain scheduled for June 3-5 in Clovis, and Tuesday’s decision doesn’t yet directly impact the swim season, though it could have a trickle-down effect.

More directly affected is water polo, a designated fall sport. State championships, broken up for Northern and Southern California, had been scheduled for March 17-20, but those have been canceled. The logic is to allow more competition dates for teams and greater power for schools to schedule contests.

In addition to water polo, Season 1 sports include football, girls volleyball and cross country. Boys volleyball has been moved from Season 1 to Season 2 in an effort to prevent the loss of a second straight postseason in that sport.

“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 statement reads. “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.”

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