CIF Introduces New Regulation for Outdoor Sports Practices Amidst Growing Air Quality Concerns

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Last October, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) implemented a regulation banning sports practices and games when the air quality is above 150.

Due to rampant forest fires, hazardous air quality has been on the rise in California. Beyond coughing and itchy eyes, poor air quality can potentially lead to a greater risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Athletes—who typically spend two to three more hours outdoors a day and inhale greater quantities of air from rigorous exercise—are more susceptible to subpar air quality.

Air quality is measured on the Air Quality Index (AQI) with a range from 0 to 500. A greater AQI indicates a greater health concern. Generally, values of 50 or below represent above-average air quality that is optimal for people’s health. Air quality of 150 and above can be potentially dangerous because it increases the “likelihood of adverse effects and aggravation to the heart and lungs.” 

A wide variety of M-A athletes shared their opinions on the decision. Senior Aidan Doherty, who runs track and field and cross country, said, “I’m glad CIF made this decision to protect athletes. When the air quality is bad I can definitely feel the effects of a bad cough and total fatigue.” 

When the air quality is bad I can definitely feel the effects of a bad cough and total fatigue.

Senior Aidan Doherty

Junior William Sherman, who plays football and lacrosse, added, “I can feel the effects of practicing in poor quality—like a raspy throat, dry eyes, and a cough—for over a day. There are also lots of things that teams can do to practice indoors such as watching game film or reviewing plays. We can still be productive even if we aren’t physically practicing outside.” 

Senior and softball player Valeria Barron said, “I think it’s reasonable and responsible, especially because there are kids who are more vulnerable to bad air quality like those with asthma and other respiratory issues.” 

However, not all athletes agree. Senior Jayden Monroe said, “During the football season, every practice matters, so it throws everybody off their rhythm if we are forced to miss a day.”

A decision previously left to the discretion of individual coaches has now become universal in California: student-athletes won’t practice or play in poor air quality. The new regulation marks the necessity of adapting to the increasing impact of climate change on our daily lives.

Mateo is a junior at M-A. This is his first year in journalism. He hopes to write about a variety of issues, ranging from athletic events to administration spending. In his free time he enjoys playing sports, hanging out with friends, and reading.

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