Playoffs on again … for some

ABBY CHAVEZ (15 in blue) maneuvers the ball for Pacifica in CIF-SS Division 1 second round CIF-SS playoff action in 2020 (Orange County Tribune photo by Christopher Abdelmalek).

The Angels and Dodgers are both in first. There’s a new Masters champion. The Lakers are looking forward to the return of LeBron and Anthony. But if you’re a high school athlete – or the parent or fan of one – the big news today is the return of playoffs for baseball, softball, basketball, soccer and other team sports.

The CIF-SS, the governing body for prep athletics for most of southern California, announced today that it will go forward with section championships for eight sports: the ones mentioned above, plus lacrosse, team tennis and dual meet wrestling.

These playoffs are made possible because the California Department of Public Health has changed its guidelines for youth athletics. Of course, it’s too late for the fall sports such as football. The governing body divided the sports into two sections, which ended up cramming what used to be winter and spring sports together.

As a matter of fact, we’ve now got the tail end of the truncated football season concluding this week, at the same time that basketball and baseball/softball are underway, for example. If you think that’s tough on the players, imagine what a scheduling nightmare it is for coaches, athletic directors and school bus drivers, etc.

Still up in the air is the matter of individual sports: golf, swimming and diving, tennis and track and field. According to Rob Wigod, commissioner of athletics for the CIF-SS, “We are actively working on securing approvals from various county health departments to ensure that we can conduct championship events involving student athletes from all eight counties within the Southern Section footprint.”

Left out are boys and girls individual wrestling, because it is considered a high contact indoor sport, which don’t meet CDPH guidelines.

Barring a sudden reversal of the current encouraging trends in fighting the coronavirus, high school sports should be back to normal by the fall. The fact that this much of the athletic year was saved – in a very shortened form – is a tribute not just to the resilience not just of all the players, coaches, principals and CIF-SS leadership, but also to all of us – or you – who wear those masks, wash your hands, keep your distance and looked out for the other person.

I was startled a while back, at the beginning of all this, when one prominent person in the community wrote on social media that she was “tired of being told we are all in this together.”

“All of us together” is how we have pulled through this once-in-a-century event. To put it in sports terms, we are all on the same team.  How well we do that – just like in sports – is how much success we have in meeting challenges and overcoming obstacles.

Pete Zarustica writes “Sports Monday.”

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