South Bay athletic league's vote cuts high school athletes' careers short

Some high school student athletes, who are wrapping up their COVID-shortened seasons, may be playing their last few games.

This, after one league’s managers voted to hold all teams out of post-season play.

"Hi, my name is Anna Beam," the 15-year-old says in a highlight reel her father posted on YouTube.

Though she’s just a sophomore, Beam’s right arm is good enough to earn her a spot on varsity. Aaron Beam had hoped his young star would show her talent in the post-season. But a vote by the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League’s Board of Managers means that won’t happen.

"This whole thing really came as a big blow to take away the playoffs, away from them, and to take away their motivation to compete," said Aaron Beam.

Dozens of league parents, and even some coaches, have emailed SCVAL board members. One characterized Thursday’s vote as, "...gutless, cowardly, and pathetic." Another wrote, "After everything these kids have been through (with COVID-19), this is absolutely inexcusable."

"So we don’t really know the reasoning. They didn’t really give us a direct reason why," said Chris Coleman, the Palo Alto High School baseball coach.

The SCVAL website lists 13 sports for spring, from baseball to gymnastics to water polo. But there isn’t an explanation why board managers overwhelmingly voted to opt-out of the post-season.

"This is about life-long memories being made, " said Prof. Shaun Fletcher, a public relations & sport communications expert with San Jose State University. "And these are memories that they will never be able to get back."

Palo Alto’s baseball coach worries removing the playoff stage could hurt would-be collegiate competitors.

"It’s been tough for them to kind of get recruited. They haven’t been able to do some of the showcases they’re used to," said Coleman.

For some, it’s a disappointing end to a high school career. Others are lamenting a season without the chance to see how good they can be.

"This is just absolutely insane and needs to be retracted and changed," said Beam.

Some parents told KTVU they’re hopeful the board’s vote can be reversed. As it stand now, the spring sports season for all teams ends next month or early June.