Even though wild fires in Northern California have made for poor air quality, WSU and Cal are still expecting to play on Friday.
Update: As of 6 p.m., the AQI (Air Quality Index) is at 159 in Berkeley, Calif. Friday. WSU and Cal are currently in warm ups on the field at California Memorial Stadium, getting ready for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Wildfires in Northern California
The fires that have ravaged Northern California this week have made for some poor air quality in the Bay Area.
But for now, the game scheduled for Friday night at California Memorial Stadium between No. 8 Washington State and Cal is still on, and both teams are preparing with the expectation that the game will happen.
In a statement released around 12 p.m. Thursday, the Cal Athletics Department said it is monitoring the situation and that the game is expected to continue as planned.
Cal reiterated its stance Thursday evening, saying that the game will go on.
In its Thursday afternoon statement, Cal Athletics said its officials “are in communication with the Pac-12, Washington State and air quality experts as we determine the best course of action. We are working through a unique situation, and the health and safety of our student-athletes, fans, coaches and all those who work home football games is of utmost concern. As of the time of this release, we do not anticipate any changes to our scheduled game with Washington State.”
The Cal Athletic Department also pointed to the NCAA standard of 200 on the Air Quality Index scale as a benchmark it might use to delay or cancel any sporting events.
The NCAA’s guidelines on the matter state, “Specifically, schools should consider removing sensitive athletes from outdoor practice or competition venues at an AQI over 100. At AQIs of over 150, all athletes should be closely monitored. All athletes should be removed from outdoor practice or competition venues at AQIs of 200 or above.”
As of Thursday morning, Weather Underground rates the air quality in Berkeley as ‘unhealthy’ at 154 on the air quality index. By 5 p.m. Thursday evening, the AQI was listed at 160.
In Cal’s release, however, the school noted that in the last few days, the local AQI has declined toward the evenings and was in the 80s on Wednesday evening.
“We will continue to observe the AQI data and will provide further updates as more information becomes available,” Cal said in its release. “We will also follow these guidelines for other sports that have competitions scheduled in Berkeley.”
At Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Media Day on Thursday, conference commissioner Larry Scott told reporters that the Pac-12 is “consulting with local authorities and looking at contingency plans.”
The Pac-12 also released a statement about the situation Thursday afternoon saying, “Student-athlete and fan safety is the No. 1 priority for our Universities and the Conference. California and Stanford are working closely with the Conference, their athletic department staff and university medical personnel to monitor the local conditions and assess the situation. Based upon the information provided by the all of these sources a decision will be made on whether or not to adjust game times and/or dates.”
Cal coach Justin Wilcox said after the Golden Bears practice Wednesday night that “we’re preparing like the game is going to be played on schedule.”
In a text message to The Seattle Times Thursday morning, WSU athletics spokesman Bill Stevens said the Cougars are also expecting to play.
“We are in communication with Cal, monitoring the situation. We are moving forward with the expectation of playing tomorrow night,” Stevens said.
The Cougars’ charter flight landed in Oakland at about 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon.
The game is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday night and will be broadcast nationally on ESPN.