California took a major step forward in regards to outdoor sports returning to competition. On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsome announced that youth outdoor sports can return to action in counties with fewer than 14 cases per 100,000 residents.
The new starting date for outdoor sports, which includes football, baseball, softball, soccer and water polo, is Feb. 26. Currently in the Mother Lode League, baseball and softball are scheduled to begin in April. Purple tier sports, such as golf, tennis, swimming, track and cross county will continue as usual.
The news benefits all six schools in the Mother Lode League, as Calaveras, Amador and Tuolumne counties are all under 14 cases per 100,000. On Friday morning, according to the California Department of Public Health, Calaveras was at 10.6, Amador was at 11.1 and Tuolumne sat at 11.7.
Other counties that meet the requirement are: Sierra (0%); Plumas (3.8%); Modoc (4.5%); Mariposa (4.8%); Trinity (6.4%); Yolo (7.0%); Del Norte (7.3%); Humboldt (7.5%); San Francisco (7.9%); Marin (8.8%); San Mateo (9.1%); Santa Clara (10.1%); Santa Cruz (10.4%); Lassen (10.5%); Napa (10.7%); Nevada (10.9%); El Dorado (11.8%); Imperial (11.9%); Placer (12%); Siskiyou (12%); Butte (12.2%); Alameda (12.4%); San Luis Obispo (13.7%) and Sonoma (13.9%).
Football needs 15 days of practice before games can be played, so kickoff could either be March 12 or 19.
One caveat for the return of football and water polo is that players of those sports will need to be tested weekly if their county case rate is above seven per 100,000. The tests will be provided by the state.
With the news breaking Friday morning, the Mother Lode League athletic directors have not yet had an opportunity to meet and discuss the direction they would like to go moving forward. League commissioner Jerry Rucker expects the league to meet Monday.
“It’s good that they’ll have more of a chance to play,” Rucker said Friday afternoon. “I wish they would have done it earlier, because we are running out of time to be able to do a lot of this stuff.”
One of the topics of discussion will be if soccer will remain a season one sport, or if it will be played in season two. The same goes for water polo. Scheduling will also be discussed.
While the news from the state was positive, Bret Harte and Calaveras did not get welcomed news from the county health department. California made a recommendation to allow athletes to play multiple sports. However, Calaveras County will not allow cohorting, according to Rucker.
Friday’s decision does not impact indoor sports.