High School students have already faced so much adversity throughout the pandemic, and now, for some student-athletes, there's concern about another hurdle to success.
The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF), the governing body for high school sports in California, has canceled State Championships for track and field for the second year in a row. The track and field coach at San Diego High School is calling foul because of how postseason play is now set up, and plans to challenge the CIF's decision.
“It’s just not fair,” coach Robert Dean said.
Unfair because indoor, close-contact sports like boys volleyball and basketball are still allowed to have Southern California Regional Championship events while track and field, which Dean argues has social distance built-in, is being sidelined to a smaller, county-wide playoff.
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Dean says it's only fair track and field athletes from across the county are allowed to have a regional competition like other sports.
" That would give them even a better chance,” Dean said. “Because, if San Diego State saw you run, saw you jump, saw you throw [they might say], 'Yeah that girl, that guy, can really throw. They're really, really good. Their time said such and such, but they PR’d, or they got a personal record on this day. They're better than we thought they were.'"
San Diego High School shot put and discus thrower Kaylah McNairy knows all too well what statewide exposure can do. She just inked a scholarship to California State Fullerton off the strength of her performance at the State Championships two years ago, but she's concerned upper-class students could miss out by just having a countywide audience.
“ A lot of kids depend on sports to get out of their situation. You know, like not everybody can afford colleges and they rely on sports to get them out and be able to help pay for college," McNairy said.
A news release from the CIF explains its decision saying, “As has been the case throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the CIF will need to be flexible and will be prepared to adjust the remaining Championship schedules as necessary as completing CIF Section Championships is a priority.”
The organization also noted, “Due to the limited number of Sections in Northern California conducting championships, coupled with potential logistical/travel issues, the State CIF will not be hosting State Championships in swim & dive, track & field, and wrestling.”
“I was a little bit concerned," said Luis Martinez, a ranked shot putter on the track and field team at Vista High School.
“I’m a junior so I still have next year to work for it," he added.
Coach Dean said he’ll continue to work for the student-athletes of San Diego County, taking his fight to social media with an Instagram campaign called “Let Them Run 2021.”