Updated Central Section Sports Calendar Released with Major Revisions to Playoffs

Clovis East’s Caitlyn Perales takes a swing during a game against Liberty on Feb. 27, 2020. (CR Photo)

The CIF Central Section released an updated season of sport calendar Tuesday, Jan. 19 with changes made according to California Department of Public Health guidelines.

Among the revisions made was the elimination of Section playoffs and championships for cross country, football, water polo and girls volleyball.

“While there may be changes in the future, the current CDPH guidance only allows competition between bordering counties, making section championship events impossible,” commissioner Ryan Tos explained in a press release.

With no playoffs or championship, there are more available dates for football, cross country, water polo and girls volleyball to schedule competitions, provided the CDPH allows it.

Fresno County is currently under a regional stay-at-home order due to increased COVID-19 cases and shrinking ICU capacity. Under the CDPH guidance, no competition can be allowed while a county is under a stay-at-home order.

The San Joaquin Valley has not met the required ICU capacity to exit the regional stay-at-home order either; the Valley’s hospitals are at 3 percent ICU capacity available, well short of the 15 percent requirement.

Cross country in the San Joaquin Valley can begin as soon as the stay-at-home order is lifted, according to the sports calendar update. The updated end date for the cross country season is March 27, 2021.

Golf, tennis, and swimming and diving can begin competition February 15, as all three are allowed under the “Purple” tier according to the CDPH. However, that date is subject to change if competition is not allowed at that point. The three sports can hold their seasons up until mid-to-late May.

Track and field — the final sport allowed under the “Purple” tier of COVID-19 cases — can begin competition on March 20 if the CDPH permits. The track and field season must be completed by June 4.

Baseball and softball can also start competition on March 20, yet those two sports can only be played under the “Red” tier according to the CDPH. June 3 is the end date for both sports’ seasons.

Football, soccer, water polo and volleyball remain allowed only under the “Orange” tier as determined by the CDPH. In addition, April 17 is the date by which the football season must be finished in order for the 2021 fall season to start as planned.

Girls volleyball and water polo must be finished by March 20, but they can only begin competition when counties move into the “Orange” tier, three levels ahead from where the San Joaquin Valley currently sits. Badminton is also an “Orange” tier sport, allowed to start on February 15 and end on May 14.

Indoor basketball and wrestling did not have their tier or start dates adjusted, meaning both sports can only be played in the “Yellow” or minimal tier according to the CDPH.

The Central Section calendar update Tuesday addressed the ongoing trend of club sports, stating that “based on current CDPH guidance, student-athletes may only participate in one cohort (team) during the same time or season.” This news also impacts two-sport athletes, who must choose which sport they will play this spring.

“Recommended start by” dates were added to the sports calendar at schools’ request. Although they don’t need to be used by leagues or districts, those dates allow for four weeks of competition to take place.

The update noted that prior to competition, a student must have 10 days of practice in that sport. If they played a prior season, the student only needs five. Football players will need a five-day acclimation period as well.

“While there are few certainties in life right now,” Tos said in the release, “I do think that we can all agree that there is not a perfect solution for the current issues related to high school sports.”

Gabriel Camarillo
Gabriel Camarillo has written for the Clovis Roundup since August 2019 and follows high school athletics, Fresno State football and former Clovis Unified student-athletes. Gabe also writes for The Collegian as a staff sports writer and works at One Putt Broadcasting as a board op for 940 ESPN radio.