The first 2020-21 sports event sanctioned by the California Interscholastic Federation's Sac-Joaquin Section took place Monday when Union Mine High hosted a four-school cross country scrimmage in El Dorado.
Harriers in San Joaquin County can now follow after Gov. Gavin Newsom lifted stay-at-home orders for the rest of the state Monday, allowing for outdoor, low-contact sports at the youth and high school levels to begin.
Coming into the week, the lockdown still applied to the San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area and Southern California regions. Northern California and Greater Sacramento were the only regions that already had the order lifted by the targeted Jan. 25 date for youth/high school sports to start.
Fifty-four of the state's 58 counties, including San Joaquin, remain in the purple tier of the state's reopening plan. California Department of Public Health guidelines allow cross country, golf, swimming, tennis and track and field competitions in counties that are still in the most-restrictive tier for widespread coronavirus transmissions.
Baseball and softball can be played in the red tier (substantial transmissions); football, soccer, volleyball and water polo in the orange (moderate); and basketball, cheer and wrestling in the yellow (minimal).
So, what comes next?
That hinges on what comes out of the SJS Board of Managers meeting today. Vice Commissioner Will DeBoard told the Bulletin last Friday that the Executive Committee is presenting a proposal to dissolve the Section's current two-season model and allow for its leagues to decide on their own calendars.
As of now, cross country is the only “Season 1” sport approved in the purple tier. Football, girls volleyball and water polo are included in Season 1 — the SJS has already canceled postseason tournaments for these sports.
Boys/girls golf and boys/girls tennis are Season 2 sports, and official practices may begin next Monday, Feb. 1 under the current SJS calendar. Soccer, wrestling, basketball, swim, cheer, baseball, softball, track and boys volleyball are set for late February and early March.