California OKs all outdoor youth sports in counties with COVID-19 case rates at or below 14 per 100,000 people.
This is a huge step in the right direction. It has been 15 months since we’ve had a football season here in the Coachella Valley. Prior to this guidance, this season looked like a wash. Now, there’s some renewed hope.
“We believe it’s backed by science, evidence, backed by experience, practicality, but more important than anything else, we are confident that if we can resume it will only help enliven the capacity of these kids to feel more engaged, feel more alive, to get the social… back to socal-emotional, the mental and physical,” said Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Coronavirus positivity rate has dropped to 3.1 percent, compared to 9.9 percent just 30 days ago. This positive trend is the reason California has changed the requirements for outdoor sports to begin.
“It’s been super exciting! I have my normal day going and it just got completely interrupted and everybody started texting me with excitement about, what does this mean for us?” Palm Springs' Athletic Director Mike Ventura said.
This immediately impacts sports in “Season 1" - like football and water polo - which have had seasons postponed twice already.
The new guidelines provide a way for these sports to begin even in the most restrictive tiers - purple and red.
“It provides an easier opportunity possibly for our athletes to return back to the sports that they love. The next step is to start working with our coaches and the district to come to a consensus about how we’re going to proceed forward with this,” Ventura said.
CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod is also pleased with the progress.
“This has been a constant daily effort, every single day since mid-March, all of us have been nonstop since that time, doing anything we could do to get us to return to play,” he said.
First Riverside County will need to reach the 14 cases per 100,000 threshold. The county is currently at 28.8.
Wigod said ultimately, return to play will be up to schools and school districts.
“We have schools that have conditioned, that continue to condition, and have their student-athletes out on the fields and doing what they can do, following guidelines, that they’ve had to follow, and we have some schools that haven’t really been able to do much of anything, so there’s going to be a wide variance,” Wigod said.
Palm Springs’ Athletic Director Mike Ventura said the school hopes to play as many sports as are allowed under the guidelines.
“I see my weekend completely being consumed by this and I look forward to hashing out those final details to get us back on the field,” he said.
This new guidance goes into effect next Friday, February 26. County case rates are updated each Tuesday.
High-impact sports, such as water polo, rugby and football will only be allowed for ages 13 and up. Players and coaches will need to be tested weekly. Testing efforts will be paid for by the state, according to Newsom.
CIF Southern Section Update: February 19, 2021 pic.twitter.com/hUbuOcJXNR— CIF Southern Section (@CIFSS) February 19, 2021
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