Hector Nava

Porterville High School's Hector Nava (7) carries the ball in a game against Monache High School, Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, at Jacob Rankin Stadium.

Decision comes after county gets OK to start

High schools in Tulare County began football practice this week, but those in Porterville Unified School District will not be joining them.

The district announced Tuesday that football, water polo and volleyball would not play this year.

The decision came hours after Tulare County reported a metric of 10.8 new COVID-19 cases per day per 100,000. Under new state guidelines, a county needed to get to or below 14 new cases per 100,000 to allow for moderate and high contact sports, like football, to play. 

“Football, volleyball and water polo, we have decided that we’re going to move on from those,” PUSD athletic director Richard Rankin said. “We’ll see those sports again next fall. At the end of the day, the district felt that if we started up those sports, you’re just going to be able to play partial seasons of those. And at the end of the day, since spring sports were totally eliminated last year, that we owed it to them to do everything we could to give those sports, every opportunity to have a full season.”

Rankin continued, “If you added the football, water polo and volleyball to the mix, there’s only so many athletes to go around, so many facilities to go around, so many busses to go around. And we just didn’t want to do that to the spring sports two years in a row.”

According to the Central Section calendar, football had a recommended start-by date of March 26 with a last contest date of April 17, which would’ve given teams at least four games. Volleyball and water polo’s start-by date were Feb. 22.

Spring sports, which includes soccer this year, will begin competition later this month. Rankin said golf, tennis, and swim and dive, who had their official practices on Feb. 1, will have their first games after PUSD’s spring break. The district’s spring break is March 15-19. 

A decision on whether sports will have junior varsity (JV) teams and varsity teams will be made later, but teams will not be making cuts. 

“If we have enough kids, we’ll definitely offer, varsity and JV in the sports that we can,” Rankin said. “No one would get cut. At the end of the day, this is a great opportunity for us to provide these kids with some type of physical activity. There will be a spot for anybody that wants to join us this spring.”

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