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Coronavirus pandemic halts high school spring athletic season

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

In an unprecedented move due to the growing concerns of the Coronavirus pandemic, the high school spring athletic season has abruptly come to an end, at least for now. The final area baseball and softball games, as well as other spring sports were played prior to the hour by hour events that played out on Mar. 12.

In addition, the basketball season, in which the state playoffs were still going on, was cancelled. As the first wave of professional and collegiate games were being cancelled, or suspended as early as Mar. 11, thoughts of high school athletics receiving the same fate were flowing throughout the California Interscholastic Federation, the governing body that oversees all high school athletics in the state.

Thom Simmons, assistant commissioner of the Southern Section, said he thought it was the right move for the major professional sports leagues as well as the remainder of the NCAA winter championships plus the spring season to be cancelled. He added that those moves were made with the best interests of the athletes, players, coaches and arena/stadium workers and officials.

“Right now, athletics must take a backseat to the health, safety and welfare of the nation and its citizens,” he said.

Once those decisions were made by the respective commissioners of those leagues, Simmons said there were no contingency plans by the CIF-SS office to make the same decisions, but to leave the individual schools and school districts to decide what they wanted to do. Throughout the day on Friday and again at the beginning of this past week, school districts and eventually the schools made the decision to shut down. The ABC Unified School District and the Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District will be closed at least through Mar. 27. Valley Christian High plans to return on Apr. 6. Of course, the openings of schools and school districts may be changed later.

“We believed, and continue to do so, letting these decisions be made by local schools and school districts, in concert with their local state health officials and with guidance from the Center for Disease Control, was/is the best plan of action as they know far better than we the best course in keeping their students and families safe,” Simmons said this past Monday. “We will/would support them in those decisions. If the situation continued into the spring championships, those events this office directly controls, we would address those concerns at that time. However, the situation is developing more rapidly than any level (local, state, federal governments) considered and decisions on moving forward could/should be changed to meet those ever-evolving changes.”

In the beginning, some school districts and/or schools were allowing games to be played while other were not. Simmons said he wasn’t surprised of that and added that just because what was happening In Los Angeles was not necessarily the same in other cities/areas and vice versa. 

As far as what the future has in store for everyone, Simmons said it is too early and would be irresponsible for him to speculate on the remainder of the spring season, including a chance that the championships would be held in early of mid-June or should games resume, how it would affect schools/teams not being able to play the same number of league games. He also said it would be too early and irresponsible for him to speculate on the affect COVID-19 may have on summer activities and the fall athletic season.