H-DNL’s proposed return date cast into doubt by state health officials


Ray Hamill/ – It remains to be seen if H-DNL cross country will return in early February.

By Ray Hamill — The H-DNL’s proposed return date for some high school sports has been cast into doubt, as state health officials refuse to confirm youth sports competition will be allowed to resume as planned.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly declined to give a definitive answer when asked if the state was still planning for a Jan. 25 return, as had been anticipated.

With COVID cases continuing to spike in California, Ghaly would only say they were working with different youth sports leaders, including the California Interscholastic Federation, to determine how current conditions would impact the proposed start date.

“Don’t want to get too far ahead of those conversations, so we’ll update you soon,” Ghaly told reporters.

On Wednesday, the H-DNL approved the return of four sports — cross country, tennis, golf and track and field — which state health officials said would be allowed even under the purple or most restricted tier.

The return date for three of those four sports was set for Feb. 1, although the league still needs approval from local health officials in Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.

That start date, however, could now be in jeopardy as we await confirmation from Ghaly and state health officials.

In the meantime, the frustration continues for student athletes, coaches and concerned parents, with the “Let Them Play CA” grassroots movement now numbering more than 45,000 members and planning a second round of statewide rallies next week, including one in Eureka.

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