Athletics conditioning, sports season begins after county restrictions loosened

With the transition of Santa Clara County from the COVID-19 watch list’s purple tier to red tier, restrictions have loosened dramatically; gyms and professional sports have been allowed to reopen indoors at lower capacities.

However, according to the Mercury News, counties in the Bay Area had their “deadliest day” last Friday, with 34 recorded deaths, while Santa Clara County logged 180 new cases and eight deaths. While not enough to move the county back into the purple tier, such numbers warn against throwing all caution to the wind and wasting the progress made thus far.

On Sept. 3, Athletic Director Curt Johansen announced the arrival of conditioning sessions for select sports. Some sessions, including football and boys and girls water polo, have already started as of Monday. Other sports that are starting conditioning soon include swimming (beginning Sept. 16) and cheer (with practices beginning Oct. 5).

A Central Coast Section (CCS) announcement on July 21 split all sports into two seasons set to occur in two blocks, one in December and one in February. Former fall season sports such as dance, girls golf and girls tennis have been moved to season two. Season one sports include girls volleyball, cross country, football, field hockey and water polo, according to the CCS announcement.

While there is risk associated with attending practices, there have been limits put in place in an attempt to prevent further spread. For one, athletes are required to play in cohorts of 14, which plan to stay relatively fixed. If an athlete wants to switch cohorts, they must go three weeks without attending a session as a form of self-quarantine. All sessions must be outside, and there are strict requirements regarding water bottles, bathrooms, locker rooms and sports equipment. While athletes are not required to wear masks during workouts, they must wear masks to and from workouts.

This year, students may not hear the roar of live audiences or be able to carpool to games; students may not be able to create lasting friendships or dress up with favorite teams at school. All circumstances considered, sports will look vastly different this year than in the past.