May 17, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

‘All options’ on the table for high school sports in fall, winter and spring, CIF commissioner says

With high school sports in the state currently haulted because of the coronavirus crisis, CIF commissioner Rob Wigod sent an update Friday explaining that all options are being considered for the fall, winter and spring sports.

Wigod’s report, sent to athletic directors and principals and shared with the media, comes one day after CIF Southern Section officials held a meeting by teleconference and cast their votes on a number of issues including a revamped playoff system for football. The measure was approved by a vote of 80-4-6.

Wigod first addressed fall sports. Football is scheduled to start for most teams on Friday, Aug. 20, but it’s possible there could be delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As we move through May, we are continuing to monitor the ongoing situation related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and most importantly, the recommendations of federal, state and local authorities, along with health professionals at every level, as it relates to the implementation of fall sports,” Wigod said in a statement. “We all certainly agree that we want high school sports back as soon as we can in a healthy and safe way. In terms of what must be done in moving forward, here is where we stand today… 

“The decisions to reopen our schools, and subsequently bring back athletic programs after they have started their academic year, will be made entirely by each local Superintendent/School Board from a public school district or each private school head of school/School board who have the authority to make those decisions. When to start school will be completely up to those local entities and I am sure they will follow the recommendations of state and local health authorities in arriving at the decisions that are in the best interests of their students and school communities. 

“Once we have enough schools reopen, and their athletic programs are back on campus, we can establish a calendar for CIF Southern Section regular season and championship competition. Right now, the original calendar we have already published for fall sports is still in place, but we have been working on several possible scenarios when we would have to move that calendar back for fall sports to start later, if developments warrant it. That is going to be our organization’s biggest challenge, in a section as large as ours with 563-member high schools.

“We have a wide  variety of school start dates that our member schools have adopted this fall, and there will also be a wide variety of start dates for athletic programs to return to our schools. There are all kinds of potential calendars ready to go, but until we have enough schools and athletic programs back in place, none of those calendars are realistic, nor can they be implemented. The CIF Southern Section and/or the CIF State Office cannot open schools and reinstitute athletic programs, we can only fully support our membership in the decisions they are empowered to make and be as prepared as we can be to fulfill our role in this process. That is how this situation is going to play out in the time ahead. 

“The message I want to convey to all of you is that all options for fall, winter and spring sports are being considered and are on the table. We want to give every consideration we can to be able to provide all three seasons of sport to our member schools and all our stakeholders that are viable, meaningful and include championship competition.

“We do not want to rush to judgment in either direction by cancelling seasons of sport prematurely or having sports return before it is safe for them to do so. With that in mind, we will continue to stay current on this ever-changing situation and do everything we can to assist our member schools in restoring education-based athletics programs when the time is right.” 

The CIF also announced that a new system for the football playoffs was approved. The new plan ranks football teams after the current season and designates them in playoff divisions, based on their performances, according to Woodbridge Athletic Director Rick Gibson.

In past years, teams were grouped in playoff divisions before the season.

-Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com