Spring Sports Fighting for Facility Time as Football, Other Fall Sports Make Late Return

High school football isn't typically played in March, so football, track and field, and other spring teams have to learn to share the field

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High school football is back in San Diego County, following a court decision that cleared the way for all high school athletics to resume.

Ironically, the son of one of the main players in the effort to let students get back into sports was sidelined from his first football game after someone connected to the Mission Hills team tested positive for COVID-19.

The first football games since fall of 2019 were played on a blustery day in early March 2021.

High school football made its season debut Friday, and the first game on the slate set a CIF record. NBC 7's Derek Togerson has more.

Most players were happy to get back on the playing field, even if it meant playing in the spring, a time when track and field, lacrosse and other spring sports share the facilities.

“These other sports are now infringing on track and field, so what’s happening is its shutting out our community from accessing these facilities,” said Paul Greer, President of the San Diego-Imperial Association of USA Track and Field.

Greer wrote a letter to the California Scholastic Federation, CIF, asking for assistance and support in helping track and field clubs share the limited number of playing fields in the area. 

Greer pointed to the CIF’s own statistics that show track and field has more participation among girls and boys than football.

“2001 is an exciting year for the sport of track and field,” said Greer. “ It’s an Olympic year. These kids are inspired by the Olympics and they want to come on out and participate in the sport. That’s what’s great about the sport.

Greer got little traction from the CIF. He told NBC7 he is working to get permits so children in track and field clubs can have access to local parks now that high school fields are overcrowded.

NBC 7 spoke to a San Diego Unified high school track coach who agreed track and field in 2021 is “decimated by other sports.” Chris Brewster said many track athletes at Hoover High School play other sports, especially football. Because football is being played in the spring this year, many student-athletes have to make tough choices.

“In the name of equity, we sometimes create more problems,” said Brewster, who said “scheduling nightmares” are being created for athletic directors who are trying to juggle more sports in a smaller window of time.

Brewster isn’t sure what the answer is to the scheduling dilemma. Student-athletes have lost so much during the pandemic, and he just hopes there’s enough room on the playing field for everyone to get a piece of the action as the COVID-19 crisis appears to be winding down.

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