Outdoor sports allowed to play


Wendy Alexander / The Madera Tribune

Boys’ cross country racers Madera Coyote start a one-to-one race Wednesday against the Sanger Apaches. California Governor Gavin Newsom agreed last week for outdoor sports to begin training and competition.

With recent figures from the Madera County Public Health Department, most outdoor sports competitions can be prepared, whether it is a full season or a partial season, according to the director of Madera Unified School District athletics, Marty Bitter.

After suggesting a few weeks ago after announcing that practices were resuming at MUSD, Bitter said there would be some good news to come. The news is a version of the good news he thought was coming.

“It was the good news of two weeks ago,” he said. “It’s a little different from what I initially thought. I thought we could eliminate the levels. It was in this direction that things would start to support the evidence that shows that playing sports can be done safely if done correctly. Since we started our practices on February 3, we have had no cases that have spread through our practices in our three high schools. For me, going there and seeing kids participating was great. These are smaller events, but we can have them.

For outdoor sports to start competing, Madera County’s infection rate had to drop below 14 per 100,000. Before last week, it was at 17. In an announcement on Tuesday, the numbers fell to 13.6 per 100,000, giving the green light to open competition for outdoor sports.

“All of our outdoor sports at all levels are eligible to start playing,” he said. “They received the green light from the governor’s advice. Our league, along with water polo, has a plan to deepen water polo during the school year to get a season. We thought we would have a swimming season, then take a break to have a month of water polo, then come back to the swimming playoffs. This is what we hope to do.

This is good news for outdoor sports, but Bitter maintains the county must continue to drop the number of cases to continue on this competitive path.

“The first thing that has to happen is to get below that 14 threshold,” Bitter said. “In the updated governor’s guidelines, all of our students must show negative text within 24 hours of a competition. That being said, we need to determine where all of these children are going to be tested. The governor said the state would pay for it. At this point, we have no plan or protocol from them on how this is going to play out. We heard that it was possible to train people to do the tests. We thought we could train our coaches to test the kids. But, where do we set up labs in order to complete the testing? In the case of other sports which require it such as water polo and football which play several matches per week, do they have to undergo two tests per week? The volume of tests and laboratory results is considerable. We haven’t seen the state’s plan on how we’re going to test and get results. We wait for that and it’s step 2. Then you have to go through your acclimatization period. For football, it’s two days in helmets, two days in helmets and hulls, then the fifth day in leg warmers. You must have 10 days of padded practice before the competition. When you distribute helmets, you must have 14 days of training before the competition.

Bitter said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s guidelines went into effect on Friday, which may open training windows for teams like football on Monday.

“If we were giving out helmets on March 1, our first chance to play would be on March 19,” he said. “It’s been three weeks. If all went well, it would be better to shoot for March 26th. Now, the Central Section of the CIF and the State have shifted the end date from April 17 to May 1. That gives us a little more time. We would have 5-6 weeks of football and we would play our championship competitions. “

In addition, Bitter also said that the state allows athletes to participate in multiple sports during the same season.

“Children can play multiple cohorts (sports) at the same time,” he said. “The problem is going to be if we have a football and baseball guy. This baseball player has to think about giving up half of his baseball season for football. Or is baseball going to be okay for someone to come to baseball after playing football in the same season. This is something that coaches have to overcome. From a district perspective, this year in particular, with all the things the kids have lost, we urged our coaches to do everything possible to allow the kids to participate as much as they can to. give them an opportunity.

Unfortunately, one of the sports that can have a hard time getting started is women’s volleyball.

“This is one of the sports that will be the most difficult to play because they are in season,” said Bitter. “Unless things change drastically and we can bring them in to start, volleyball is going to be really hard to have. Basketball still has a little bit of time for things to tend to drop to get into that red. “

However, there are plans to move the girls ‘volleyball season in the same way the CIF moved the boys’ volleyball season, which has seen its third move since the start of the pandemic. Traditionally, boys’ volleyball is played during the spring season. In the CIF state office’s original plan, the boys ‘volleyball was moved to coincide with the girls’ volleyball season in the fall. When the numbers arrived and these sports could not be played, the boys’ volleyball season was moved to the next season and we hope to start a season.

“The volleyball boys would miss two years if we didn’t have a season this year,” Bitter said. “That’s why the state brought them back into a second season, or spring season, to be able to try and do it. They have also done the same for women’s volleyball and hope to bring it back to play in the league. We can try to push that back to the end of April or May to get a season if the numbers keep going down. “

Bitter said the district is considering renting SportCourt like Sanger High School did, but there are still issues with that.

“No. 1, what’s going to happen if it’s raining or there’s a good wind,” Bitter said. “What happens in the early morning when it’s freezing? us every night? How do we keep it secure and protected? These are concerns. We try to look at every possible way we can give our children an opportunity.

However, with the governor’s announcement, Bitter hopes this will give the green light to more opportunities for MUSD athletes.

“Last Friday’s announcement by the governor opened the floodgates,” he said. “I can see things continuing on this path to get more competitions and more sports opening up to go down the path of our new normal, whatever that is. Keys are what we’ve always talked about. If you are sick, stay home. Always wear your mask. Wash your hands. Disinfect our equipment. This must be the key. If we play indoor volleyball, I can see our players having to wear masks all the time. Basketball is a little harder to wear masks because of the stress. These are some of the sacrifices that children will have to make. “

In the meantime, Bitter remains positive and hopes MUSD athletes have the chance to compete.

“There is hope,” he said. “I won’t be in the least surprised if we have sports that cannot be played. I think the majority of them will get some sort of cut season. We have to try to stay positive and keep the kids positive. Children are resilient and happy to exercise. Now that incentive has been increased slightly because they have the opportunity to participate. It is starting to feel real. They get excited. “

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