It's less than two months before high school football practice is officially supposed to begin Dec. 14 in California, but there's still no definite indication games set to begin Jan. 8 will actually take place because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
State health guidelines for youth sports haven't been updated since Aug. 3. While teams have been engaging in conditioning activities with limited use of equipment, weight training has been disrupted because of safety requirements banning use of indoor weight rooms.
Petitions to get state health officials to make adjustments so that workouts can progress to a different level starting next month have been circulating, but it remains to be seen when and what changes will be offered. And even if the state loosens requirements, local areas with high positivity rates will face obstacles getting clearance.
California is one of six states, plus the District of Columbia, to have no fall sports for high school teams. Thirty states modified their seasons and 14 made no changes, according to the National Federation of State High School Assns. The CIF, which governs high school sports in California, has said it intends to keep its revised schedule but everything depends on health departments changing guidelines. The CIF has been engaged in talks with the state department of health, according to CIF executive director Ron Nocetti.
Obstacles remain immense, such as figuring out transportation for teams while adhering to social distancing restrictions.
Meanwhile, programs continue to prepare for the day they get clearance. They're holding workouts, requiring masks, sanitizing equipment and making students fill out daily health questionnaires.
This coming week could provide a clearer picture where things stand. The largest district in California, the Los Angeles Unified School District, is making plans to allow teams to begin voluntary workouts Nov. 2. That would be a huge step forward, but it first must receive approval from the superintendent and only students who test negative would be allowed on school sites.
Gov. Gavin Newsom has said an update to youth sports guidelines is being discussed.
There's still time built into the football schedule to have a season even if it is delayed again. Playing league games that begin in February is the key. There can be no playoffs without league games. The football season is scheduled to end April 17.
Other fall sports such as volleyball, cross country and water polo are waiting to get their seasons started and have similar obstacles to overcome, including getting clearance to use facilities and modifying social distancing guidelines.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.