Ask Sondheimer: You have high school sports questions, he has answers

Football players gather for a workout at Culver City High.
Football players gather for a workout at Culver City High on Friday for the first practice of the new winter/spring football season.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Official high school football practices began on Friday in Los Angeles and Orange counties for teams that received approval from their schools and districts under updated youth sports guidelines. Water polo and soccer also started.

If last year was like no other in state high school sports history, this spring promises to be no different. Football in March and April. Basketball who knows when? Overlapping schedules everywhere. As part of a regular feature in the coming weeks, Times high school columnist Eric Sondheimer will answer reader questions to make sense of it all.

You can reach — and follow — Sondheimer with your questions at his Twitter account, @latsondheimer. Here are today’s reader questions:


What happens if there’s a positive test for a prep athlete?

The California Department of Public Health is supposed to come out with procedures and protocols for weekly testing of football and water polo coaches and athletes required before playing games. The CIF expects to update schools this week. High schools do not have the contact tracing resources of college or pro sports, so it would not be surprising if games are immediately canceled when a positive test occurs.

Will spectators be allowed at games?

It will be up to schools to decide policy on who gets to attend games. State recommendations limit observation of youth sports to immediate household members. Leagues should be formulating final plans this week, but expect a conservative approach in the beginning to see how things play out. Look for lots of people volunteering to be on the chain crew for football games (they get to watch their sons and daughters on the sideline).

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Will games be livestreamed?


Yes. Individual high schools have been preparing to offer livestreams while campuses remain closed. The NFHS Network has a program that supplied schools with cameras. Fox Sports will be doing six TV and livestreams a week for football.

What will happen to students playing club soccer?

The CIF is allowing students to participate with club and high school teams at the same time under a one-time waiver for all sports except football. Soccer coaches are working with club coaches to make sure players do not over practice. Most club games happen on weekends, so it’s feasible to create balance. But schools must decide if they want to mix their athletes with others, which goes against some county guidelines.

When will Ventura, Riverside and San Bernardino County athletes get to return?

Counties must reach adjusted COVID-19 cases of 14.0 or less per 100,000 people to clear the way for outdoor sports to begin. Ventura was at 16.9, Riverside 16.6 and San Bernardino 15.2. Every Tuesday, the CDPH announces the newest metrics.

Will there be outside basketball and outdoor volleyball?

Probably. Several schools have created outdoor courts for basketball and volleyball while waiting to see when indoor sports might be approved. La Verne Damien is scheduled put up an outside basketball court Monday on a tennis court. The San Gabriel Valley Grass League put together by Monrovia coach John Van Deventer for girls’ volleyball begins this week.