By Ray Hamill — It’s been a crazy few days for local sports, with the news early on Monday that the CIF has decided to push back the fall sports seasons to the new year, while condensing the three traditional annual seasons into just two.
The good news is that nothing has been canceled, and that’s something we should be grateful for after the past few months.
The bad news, on the other hand, is that with so many sports slated to be played simultaneously between March and June, many local multiple-sport student athletes will now be forced to make a decision and sacrifice one for the other.
Unless, of course, the H-DNL was to follow the lead of the Northern Section and defy the CIF’s decision by competing in the fall or winter — as long as they are given clearance by local health officials to do so, something that is far from guaranteed.
The North Coast Section, which includes Humboldt and Del Norte counties, has indicated it will follow the CIF’s directive and released its calendar for the year shortly after the state-wide announcement.
So if the H-DNL decided to go rogue it would do so alone within the section.
League commissioner Jack Lakin told Humboldt Sports earlier this week that the H-DNL will most likely be meeting in the near future to discuss the best steps for the league, stressing that a big factor in any decision will be guidance from the county health officials, as it should be.
Monday’s news from the CIF received mixed reviews locally. Some coaches were left “disappointed” at the decision and wondering how they will manage to even field teams in the spring amidst the competition for student athletes with other programs within the same school, while others applauded the CIF and NCS for making the best decision possible in a very tough situation.
Football, girls volleyball and boys and girls cross country all will now compete early in the new year and each should be fine in terms of numbers, having only to adjust to playing at a different time of the year.
The real problem for the H-DNL is with the other nine sports, which all will be competing at the same time from March through June, and that’s an awful lot of competition going on at the same time for a group of relatively small schools that rely heavily on their multi-sport athletes.
The biggest concern is for basketball, baseball and softball, with many of their dual-sport athletes now having to choose and sacrifice. Some of them also play soccer, which will make the decisions even tougher.
There’s no doubt that if the league defied the CIF and opted to hold some sports in the fall or winter, it would alleviate some of that logjam for the spring, while offering their student athletes the prospect of competing in more than one sport and avoiding having to choose and sacrifice one for another.
But could it work? Especially if the rest of the NCS teams are on hold.
Scheduling would be a problem if the rest of the NCS continues to follow the CIF directive, although H-DNL teams could conceivably schedule more games locally, while also potentially traveling to play non-league games in Oregon or east against the Northern Section teams.
Such a decision, however, would also prevent local teams from competing for section or state championships, which would be a big sacrifice for many.
And we also need to ask how realistic is it to even expect a full contact sport like football to be given the all-clear any time soon?
So the question now is whether the H-DNL is content with the CIF’s decision and willing to make the best of a tough situation, or whether the league wants to go out on a limb in order to allow their student athletes compete in multiple sports and avoid having to sacrifice one for another.