More than a week earlier than anticipated, the California Community College Athletic Association (CCCAA) announced they were adopting their “contingency plan” as laid out earlier this year for the upcoming athletic competition in 2020-21 in response to COVID-19.
I’ll be honest, it is very hard to make sense of any of this, but as is the case with COVID-19, it makes sense to some but confuses many while the response to the disease is causing more havoc than anyone anticipated. That havoc continues in the athletic world.
As previously mentioned in this column and with some more modifications, the contingency plan for junior colleges like Bakersfield College means there will be no competitions this fall for any sports, most notably football moves to a January practice and February-March competition schedule. Just to summarize, football, basketball, cross country, women’s golf, volleyball, soccer, water polo and wrestling have all been moved to the January-March season while the remaining sports including baseball, tennis, men’s golf, swimming, softball, track and field will start practice in late March and start competition in April. There will also be a 30-percent decrease in competitions, meaning few, if any, non-conference games.
This decision was supposed to be made on July 17, three days before the high school governing body in California, the CIF, was to make their announcement. The CCCAA board of directors ultimately felt they did not need to wait any longer and the sooner they made the decision the better for the member institutions. I couldn’t agree more and strongly encourage the CIF to do the same. Schools, teachers and coaches have enough going on right now to prepare for whatever semblance of a school year is to come in the next few months. Anxiety over what their season of competition will or won’t look like should not be one of them. CIF previously announced they plan on a decision July 20th.
While I believe the CCCAA decision is a precursor to what the CIF may attempt, high schools don’t possess the resources of community colleges when it comes to athletics staff, facilities, and simple game day operations. One flaw in the CCCAA plan is putting football and soccer into the same season. Many community colleges and nearly all high schools in the state share football/soccer facilities for practice and competition, throw in the wear and tear on natural grass fields in the wintertime and you have an unplayable surface for any sport. Factor in the weather in Tehachapi and those two sports simply cannot coexist on the same field.
My hope is the CIF uses portions of the CCCAA’s plan but instead creates a fall sports season that includes golf, cross country, tennis, and soccer. All of these sports are played outdoors and have limited fan attendance, this isn’t meant to be an insult, it is just the reality of the viewing habits of prep sports. What is most-likely to be adopted is moving football to the winter, which as previously mentioned brings a whole new level of strategy to the game locally but creates unique challenges as well, especially for small schools like Tehachapi that rely on athletes playing multiple sports.
Fans will be making choices as well as to what they can attend, and I can imagine the problems this will create on game day with a limited athletics staff. I encourage all of you that have the ability to volunteer this coming season to do so because we will all need to pitch in to make this work. It is not going to be normal, and it is not going to be easy, but the only resource we have an abundance of, people, may be the trick to pulling this off while making history in the process.
Corey Costelloe has covered NCAA, professional and local sports for more than 20 years as a reporter and broadcaster. A THS graduate, he now resides in Tehachapi. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are his own.