Newsletter: Friday night lights, postponed

California Interscholastic Federation is delaying the high school seasons for football and other fall sports until January.
The California Interscholastic Federation has postponed the high school seasons for football and other fall sports until January. Above, Paradise High football players arrive for practice last year in Chico, Calif.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Good morning, and welcome to the Essential California newsletter. It’s Tuesday, July 21, and I’m writing from Los Angeles.

High school football games in February? You’d better believe it.

The state’s governing body for high school sports has spoken, announcing a reshaped high school sports landscape in California for the (already quite reshaped) 2020-21 school year. Here’s what you need to know.

According to the California Interscholastic Federation’s Monday announcement, the start of the high school sports season in California will be delayed until December or January. Along with football, girls’ volleyball, cross-country, boys’ water polo, girls’ golf, girls’ tennis and field hockey seasons will also be postponed from the fall.


[Read the story: “CIF announces high school sports season won’t begin until December or January” in the Los Angeles Times]

The move, according to my colleague sports columnist Eric Sondheimer, might be giving the state’s more than 800,000 athletes “their best opportunity to have a sports season in the 2020-21 school year,” since most public and private schools in the state are planning to begin the year with online-only instruction.

Instead of the regular high school sports calendar, which would typically include fall, winter and spring seasons, there will be just two seasons, played between December and June. Sports that would traditionally be played during the winter season, like soccer and basketball, will be played in the spring.

CIF has set concrete last dates for section playoffs and regional/state championships for most sports. But beyond that, the 10 geographically divided sections within the CIF will be responsible for drafting their own schedules, and deciding when each season will begin and how long it should last.

From there, multi-sport athletes and coaches will face something of a jigsaw puzzle. As Eric writes, football season will overlap track season. Basketball season starting in March will overlap several sports seasons. Boys’ and girls’ volleyball will take place at the same time, causing issues for coaches who direct both programs.

[See also: “If there is high school sports overlap, tough choices await athletes” in the Los Angeles Times]

In other news of note, the CIF will allow athletes to participate on club teams at the same time as their high school seasons in an unprecedented temporary suspension of CIF rules.

As USC beat writer Ryan Kartje detailed in a recent story, the postponement of the fall football season also raises questions for top prospect seniors in Southern California, who have been skipping final high school semesters to get to college campuses early in increasing numbers. “Every answer seemingly begets another question, and the lingering uncertainty has frustrated players, parents and coaches alike,” Ryan explains. “Some worry a postponement could spark an exodus of not just early enrollees, but also other top prospects concerned with the quick turnaround to a college football season.”

CIF’s Southern section and L.A. City section have already released their “fall” and spring sports schedules, which can be found here.

Safety protocols to clear the way for practices and games will still need to be worked out across the board.

And now, here’s what’s happening across California:

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday that hair salons and barbershops could offer services outdoors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The announcement provides relief to salons that closed in March under the stay-at-home order, were allowed to reopen in May and then closed again on July 13 when the governor shut down indoor businesses in counties on the state’s monitoring list. Los Angeles Times

L.A. County reports a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations. As of Monday, 2,232 people were hospitalized with COVID-19 symptoms — the highest single-day number reported and the sixth consecutive day that hospitalizations surpassed 2,100. Los Angeles Times


The release of Christopher Nolan’s “Tenet” has been delayed again by Warner Bros. The Burbank studio did not set a new release date for the big-budget science fiction film, which had already been pushed back twice due to theater closures. Los Angeles Times

“As a restaurant server, I’m risking my life to serve you during the pandemic. Please remember that.” A server at a popular Santa Monica fine-dining establishment on the exhausting experience of serving customers who don’t seem to understand that COVID-19 has changed everything. Los Angeles Times

COVID-19 leads to a spike in car thefts. Although crime in general has decreased since mid-March in L.A., vehicle thefts have increased. Crosstown

As an uncertain future looms, Los Angeles’ swap meet vendors live in the moment. L.A. swap meets are an infinite jumble of commerce, tailored to the needs of low-income communities. Los Angeles Times

A lone vendor is seen near the Drive-in screen at the Paramount Swap Meet
A lone vendor is seen at the Paramount Swap Meet, which would normally be packed with vendors and shoppers, on Saturday, June 27. Swap meets across the Southland are struggling to bounce back after finally reopening amid the ongoing pandemic.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

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President Trump plans for a second season of coronavirus briefings: He announced Monday that he would restart his regular briefings about the virus, probably Tuesday, three months after he stopped them following a backlash over his suggestion that injections of disinfectant could be used to kill the disease. Los Angeles Times


The Orange County district attorney’s office said two of its former prosecutors committed malpractice by willfully ignoring the use of a veteran government informant to obtain a confession from mass killer Scott Dekraai, according to an internal review of the county’s so-called snitch scandal that was made public Monday. Los Angeles Times

Poway rabbi’s years of fraud revealed: The same San Diego-area rabbi who gained international notoriety after an April 27, 2019, shooting attack on his synagogue killed a congregant and injured three others admitted to years of illegal schemes involving taxes, government programs, real estate and public and private grant programs. Los Angeles Times


Fifteen L.A. County children have been sickened by a rare coronavirus-related inflammatory syndrome. Most of the children developed the potentially deadly inflammatory sickness about two to four weeks after being infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, the CDC says. “Many questions remain about why some children develop it after a COVID-19 illness or contact with someone with COVID-19, while others do not,” the agency said. Los Angeles Times


UC Berkeley has a poor reputation among Black students. It’s trying to change that. Last week, Berkeley announced it had accepted the largest number of Black students in three decades, accounting for 5% of the admitted California freshman class. Los Angeles Times

San Francisco’s storied Tosca Cafe is now a pop-up restaurant outside a former SoMa church. “The Tosca Cafe name carries with a history of high highs and, more recently before the new owners came into the picture, low lows.” San Francisco Chronicle

[See also: A 2013 oral history of Tosca as “the world’s best last dive bar” in Bon Appétit]

Sacramento’s oldest continuously operated restaurant is closing due to pandemic strain. Espanol Italian served Basque-style cuisine from its original downtown location through the Great Depression and World War II, and has stood at its current spot in East Sacramento for more than half a century. Sacramento Bee

The pandemic has pushed aside city planning rules. But to whose benefit? As bike lanes and cafes sprout on streets, marginalized residents wonder when their priorities will get attention. New York Times

This East Palo Alto stylist is giving coronavirus cuts to NBA stars. He’s one of six barbers invited into the exclusive Orlando “bubble” where the teams are residing. KQED

A poem to start your Tuesday: “The End of Science Fiction” by Lisel Mueller. The Slowdown

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Los Angeles: partly sunny, 82. San Diego: sunny, 73. San Francisco: partly sunny, 64. San Jose: partly sunny, 78. Fresno: sunny, 98. Sacramento: sunny, 89. More weather is here.


Today’s California memory comes from Jane Touhey:

My early memories were of the smell of eucalyptus and the heat on the golden hillside where we lived near Morgan Hill. We looked down on a valley floor of flowering almond and fruit trees. Below our house was a big, hot drying shed full of fragrant trays of prunes and apricots. I led my little brother in to taste them. A man with sharp clippers threatened to cut off our ears if we took any. We ate a lot of fruit, but he never did.

If you have a memory or story about the Golden State, share it with us. (Please keep your story to 100 words.)

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints, ideas and unrelated book recommendations to Julia Wick. Follow her on Twitter @Sherlyholmes.