CIF makes change in regards to cohorting

In the never-ending ballad surrounding the return of high school sports, another verse has been written.

A widely criticized aspect to the return of sports was centered around cohorting. In trying to limit contact between student-athletes, it was said that athletes could only participate in one sport at a time. For most leagues, such as the Mother Lode League, they split up the remaining year into two seasons. With students not being able to participate in multiple sports at once, the biggest impact would be felt on smaller schools.

On Feb. 10, the CIF issued a statement regarding bylaws 600-605 and cohorting and it read, “The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) sent an inquiry to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) regarding the Cohorting Section in their updated youth sports guidance document released on Dec. 14, 2020, and we have confirmed that their specific language regarding cohorting and multi-team participation is not a mandate, but a recommendation. Therefore, effective immediately, the CIF is reinstating its waiver of Bylaws 600-605. The only exception is the sport of football. In consultation with the CIF Sports Medicine Advisory Committee and given the California law (California Education Code 35179.5) regarding full-contact practice limitations and other safety regulations resulting from Assembly Bill 2127 (Cooley), Assembly Bill 1 (Cooper), and CIF Bylaws, students will not be allowed to participate on a high school football team and a club football team at the same time. No student is in violation of this bylaw until they participate in a high school football game and subsequently participate in a club football game.”

With this change, the question that comes up is will the Mother Lode League make changes to what sports are played in what season? Currently, all high school sports must follow a tier guideline set by the state. And while the CIF and CIF Sac-Joaquin Section have been and continue to try to get all sports eligible to play in the red tier (purple, red, orange and yellow in order of most severe to least), there has not been any change.

The Mother Lode League has two seasons and the first will include football (orange tier), volleyball (orange), water polo (orange), cross country (purple), girls’ golf (purple), boys’ and girls’ basketball (yellow), wrestling (yellow), and boys’ and girls’ soccer (orange). The second season will have baseball (red tier), softball (red), swimming (purple), track and field (purple), tennis (purple), and boys’ golf (purple).

Many parents and players have voiced frustrations that orange tired sports are put in the first season and will most likely not be able to have a season played, due to the time needed to jump two tiers. As it stands, the Mother Lode League seasons and schedules are still being used as set up, but things can be altered if applicable and doable as new guidelines and protocols are released.

Practices for all sports in the first season, except cross country which began Feb. 1, is Feb. 22. The first league scheduled game for all non-football sports is March 1 or 2. The second season begins April 5 with practices and will conclude June 1 and 2. Games can start to be played on April 12.

Many options moving forward will still depend on decisions made by Tuolumne, Calaveras and Amador counties’ health officials.

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