We're (Coming) Baaaaaaaaaaaaack!

We're (Coming) Baaaaaaaaaaaaack!

by Cerwin D Haynes

with Stephen Morales (@grecomeco23)

 

It's true that COVID-19 has changed our reality for the foreseeable future. With the American sports world on pause since March, various groups and organizations began sizing up the landscape to begin to figure out if sports can ultimately continue within this new foreseeable future, this "new normal" that so many have coined. We've written before about how California community colleges can allow their respective athletic departments to "figure it out" along with the rest of the sporting universe and why it's so vital to do so. When the CCCAA Board of Directors held their virtual meeting last Friday May 29th, they voted - in principle - to pursue a 2020-2021 season. But the board postponed implementing a plan for "how" until today's meeting, which had some within the California JUCO community nervous about the board's commitment to 2020-21 athletics. Needless to say, the stakes were high.

 

But then, George Floyd was murdered by Minneapolis police.

 

A country angered by racism and police brutality, taking to the streets and media to protest and voice said anger, now served as an ominous backdrop to today's proceedings. With so many California JUCO athletes being African-American, colleges throughout the state have voiced their support of the #BlackLivesMatter movement through various social media outlets. Some of those sentiments and concerns over the welfare of these players were also expressed at the start of this afternoon's 2+ hour virtual session. 

Some may ask of the relationship of fighting for racial equality and athletics. One only needs to do a simple Google search of "sports" and "civil rights movement" to unearth countless stories of how sports and athletes have played a critical role in advancing the movement. But incredibly, sports offers even more: a way to unify young people from different walks of life for a common cause: to play as a team. And even that goes further: the fans of a given team - who can also be from different walks of life - can gather (safely) together to take their minds off the troubles of the day for a few hours of enjoyment. So sports - even at the community college level - affords opportunities and examples of unity at a time it is badly needed. Today's vote to decide on a plan put forth by the CCCAA COVID-19 Working Group - the "how" - was viewed live by nearly 500 patrons on Facebook and scores more on Zoom.

 

The motion passed unanimously. The plan was ratified.

"Today's vote was a huge step for our 2020-21 season," said East Los Angeles College Athletic Director and head football coach Bobby Godinez. "The vote allows us to move forward to helping the progress of our student athletes." 

 

Community college athletics now has a three-tiered plan for a restart, built to adhere to state and local easing's of COVID-19 restrictions. Highlights of this plan include:

  • Flexibility to shift certain sports seasons based on a programs' abilities to start safely
    • Football - a topic heavily discussed - will either start its regular season on September 26th of this year or February 13th of next year.

  • All sports will have their regular season schedules reduced by 25%

  • No sporting events will take place between November 25th, 2020 and January 18th, 2021.
    • Men and Women's Basketball - which traditionally begins its regular season in November - will move back to either a January or February 2021 start date.
      • This is to avoid the height of flu season, where many health officials believe can pave way to a spike in coronavirus cases.

  • A worst-case scenario will push all sports back to a January 2021 start. 

Many have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to answer the challenge of not just getting athletics back up and running, but implementing sports in a COVID-19 climate. "This process has taken its toll on many committees, conferences and Athletic Directors, but the work isn't done," Godinez commented. "We must all prepare for the next steps in returning to campus safely".

 

So JUCO sports will be back soon in California, joining the NCAA, NHL and NBA with announcing plans to resume sports later this summer and into the fall (the NFL plans to start on schedule, while MLB is currently in negotiations). Sports is coming, and with the current climate of the country it'll be an extremely warm welcome.

"It gives AD's, coaches and staff the opportunity to give needed positivity in a tough time," says a hopeful Godinez.

www.elacathletics.com is the official East Los Angeles College athletics website. Any other website containing information about East Los Angeles College athletics is not sanctioned by East Los Angeles College and therefore may not contain accurate information.