Tentative Jan. 25 date for games to begin

New guidelines for sports in California were released Monday evening to the public by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). The guidelines apply to all organized youth sports and adult recreational sports, but not to collegiate or professional sports.


Under the new guidelines, sports are categorized based on contact — low, medium, and high — and if the sport is being played indoor or outdoor. The ability to play or do each sport will also depend on the county’s COVID-19 tier. 

For example, all counties will be allowed to play and do any one of the 24-plus outdoor, low-contact sports, ranging from pickleball (singles) and golf to snowboarding and track and field. 

However, for Tulare County and any other county in the purple-widespread tier, it stops there. 

If a county is in the red-substantial tier, it can have outdoor, low contact sports and outdoor, moderate-contact sports, including pickleball (doubles), baseball, softball, and cheerleading. “All sports permitted in lower tiers, are also permitted in higher tiers,” the guideline notes.

Counties in the orange-moderate tier can add outdoor-high contact sports like football, soccer, water polo, and indoor low-contact sports like volleyball, dance (no-contact), pickleball (singles), and physical training. 

Counties that have reached the yellow-minimal tier can play all previously mentioned sports plus indoor moderate contact sports like cheerleading and dance (intermittent contact) and indoor high-contact sports such as basketball and wrestling. 


“Inter-team competitions (i.e., between two teams) will not be allowed in California until January 25, 2021, at the earliest, based on the guidelines outlined in this document,” states the CDPH. “The return-to-competition date will be reassessed by January 4, 2021, based on California disease transmission trends and is subject to change at any time given the level of COVID-19 transmission in California.”

Along with the tentative Jan. 25 date, the CDPH states that “youth should limit their sport activities to their own households in counties under the Regional Stay at Home Order.”

The new guidelines also say that teams “must not” participate in out-of-state tournaments since several multistate outbreaks were reported in California and across the nation.

Inter-team competitions are also only allowed if both teams come from the same county, or teams are from bordering counties and the sport is allowed in both their counties. 

Currently, tournaments with more than two teams are not allowed, but “exceptions may be made, with authorization from the local health department, for the following sports where individual competitors from multiple teams are routine: track and field; cross-country; golf; skiing/snowboarding; tennis; and swimming/diving.”


Much of the guidance on what athletes and coaches should and should not do at practices and games remains the same. 

CDPH’s guidelines still require coaches and players not participating in an activity to wear face coverings while youth and adult players are advised to whether they’re playing inside or outside. Observers are also required to wear masks.

Six feet of separation is still encouraged even during activity, and especially on the sidelines. Coaches should refrain from making contact with participants, and observers can attend practices and games but should also maintain six feet of distance from non-household members.

For indoor venues, the CDPH states, “Limit indoor sports venue capacity for athletes, coaches, and observers to CDPH Gym & Fitness Center Guidance Capacity (25% in Tier 3 [Orange/Moderate], and 50% in Tier 4 [Yellow/Minimal]).” The guideline also notes ventilation for indoor sports should be increased to the “maximum extent possible.”

For the complete guideline, visit cdph.ca.gov

For more information from the CIF and Central Section, visit cifcs.org/default-content/release8.

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