What you need to know about return of high school sports

High school football is scheduled to return March 11 in San Diego County.
Scenes like this could be common again across San Diego County as early as March 11 when high school football is scheduled to return.

Questions and answers about football and other prep sports


San Diego County is inching toward opening all high school and youth sports.

Last week, Gov. Gavin Newsom said the county must be at 14 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 to resume play.

In the newest numbers released Tuesday, San Diego’s adjusted state case rate was 15.

San Diego CIF Commissioner Joe Heinz was disappointed San Diego didn’t dip under 14, but is encouraged the numbers are going down, anticipating San Diego’s numbers will be good to go next week.

With that in mind, here are some things to look for:

Last Friday, San Diego Superior Court North County granted a temporary restraining order, allowing high school and youth sports to resume as long as they “follow the same or similar COVID-19 protocols used for competition in professional and/or collegiate sports within the county.” How does this affect a return to sports?

There are financial concerns over complying with professional and/or collegiate guidelines. Before the TRO, San Diego high schools were required to comply with less arduous and less expensive COVID-19 procedures.

So what happens now?

The CIF is waiting for guidance to provide its member schools any additional COVID-19 protocols that need to be put in place.

So when does football start?

Football practice can start Friday, Feb. 26, but there can be no contact until the case rate is under 14. The first games in a six-game season are scheduled for March 11-13.

What will those schedules look like?

Schools will be assigned five league games, but are free to schedule a sixth game to start the season. That game, however, must be against a team within the county.

What is the last day for football?

Football season must end by April 17 to allow for 90 days between seasons. Practice for the 2021 football season is set to begin July 30.

Will all schools field football teams?

There is talk some schools are considering not playing. But nothing has been decided yet. Many of the large schools have said they will not field freshmen teams, instead moving freshmen up to the JV level with the stipulation JV teams must be freshmen and sophomores only.

Will there be testing?

Yes. As of now, all players and coaches must be tested weekly. And they must all be negative 24 hours before kickoff. All state and county guidelines must be followed.

Will that change?

Testing can go away if the county reaches 7 cases per 100,000.

Will there be football playoffs?

There will be no county, Southern California or state playoffs in football this season.

What other sports can start practice Friday?

Boys and girls soccer. Field hockey can start “soon” according to a CIF press release.

What sports are playing now?

Cross country is underway. Swimming is set for this week, along with coed tennis as well as boys and girls golf.

Will there be championships in cross country and swimming?

The cross country championships have been canceled, but leagues can hold championships. County swimming finals are scheduled for April 24 at Granite Hills.

What are the next outdoor sports to start?

Baseball, softball, boys and girls lacrosse may start March 13. Water polo has been pushed back from March 13 to April 17.

What about indoor sports?

A few weeks ago, it didn’t look like there would be any indoor sports — boys and girls basketball, boys and girls volleyball, wrestling and badminton. Now there is hope for shortened seasons, perhaps as many as 18 games for basketball.

Will tournaments or invitationals be allowed?

Right now, no, because there cannot be multiple games at a site. But Heinz said the CIF is working on formats to permit tournament play. In baseball that means tournaments like the Hilltop, GMC and Lions might have to get creative. That goes for softball’s Cougar Classic as well.

Can athletes/coaches participate in more than one sport?

Yes, but one of those sports can’t be football.

— John Maffei is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune


5:18 a.m. Feb. 24, 2021: This story has been updated with a note about when the next set of outdoor sports can begin.