Ruling opens door for basketball, wrestling and badminton

In yet another stunning development in the push to resume sports in California, the governor’s office announced on March 4 that a settlement in a pending lawsuit had been reached that would allow the resumption of all indoor sports.

The surprise announcement came just a week after the state ruling that outdoor sports could be played in counties that have a COVID case rate of 14 or fewer infections per 100,000 residents. The latest ruling for indoor sports has the same requirement, although indoor sports participants may be subject to weekly testing.

The lawsuit seeking to lift the ban on indoor sports was brought on by a group of student/athletes and coaches last month and applied enough pressure to force embattled Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to change course on their existing health policies.

Although the news was received with surprise and excitement from all those affected, the ruling may have raised as many questions as answers.

“The North Coast Section and all the sections in the state are reaching out to get clarification on the CDPH updated guidance and will then be informing the 177 schools in our section what they advise our leagues to do with this new update,” Windsor High School Athletic Director Jamie Williams said. “Our North Bay League has an AD meeting on March 9 and I’m sure we’ll be discussing some of the almost impossible logistics to play.

With outdoor sports such as boys and girls tennis, boys and girls golf, cross country, football, baseball, soccer, swimming, softball, boys and girls lacrosse and track and field starting up, schools will be facing a logistical nightmare, having to figure out how to share fields, gyms and locker room facilities, all while keeping pace with social distancing guidelines. The new ruling will allow boys and girls basketball, wrestling and badminton to be added to the mix.

In a normal school year, 15 sports are divided into three seasons, but with the current plan, all may be allowed to play at the same time.

Should indoor sports start up this spring, there is also a COVID testing component to consider, along with the question of fans being allowed in gymnasiums. The current state directive calls for athletes and coaches in outdoor high contact sports such as football and soccer to require weekly testing while in a purple tier (paid for by the state). It’s unclear at this point who will pay for tests if they’re required for indoor sports if we remain in a purple tier. Should spectators not be allowed to attend games indoors, the plan for many schools is to livestream games on the NFHS network.