May 28, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

CIF makes it official and cancels spring playoffs but issues a ‘message of hope’

High school baseball games in Orange County have been held at the Orange County Great Park Baseball Stadium in Irvine. (File photo Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone)

After a meeting by all the CIF sections at a state meeting, CIF commissioner Rob Wigod issued a statement Friday which announced that all high school post-season playoffs in the state including all in Orange County have been canceled for the spring because of concerns about the coronavirus crisis.

The move was expected since most school districts had followed the lead of Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials in recommending that schools remain closed for the rest of the school year, making it impossible for league seasons to continue.

Wigod did not give a timetable when sports would resume or talk about the fall season, including football. He did issue some talking points to advise athletes and coaches.

Irvine Unified School District Athletic Director Mark Cunningham, a former football coach at University, said earlier this week that football and other fall sports were still on. But Cunningham said officials were monitoring the coronavirus crisis carefully and could make changes as needed.

Here is the statement from Wigod which he described as a ‘Message of hope.’

Today, the CIF State Office, in coordination with the 10 CIF Sections around the state, made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel the Spring Sports Championships at the state and section levels. In arriving at this decision, I know that my colleagues and I thought about our student-athletes first, as in everything we do and our entire organization does, each and every day.

The health and safety of our student-athletes is always our highest priority, and it is with that in mind that we did what we believed we had to do, not only for them, but for all our stakeholders. These are unprecedented times for all of us and the most difficult situation I have faced in my 20 years working for the CIF Southern Section Office.

Decisions on the future of our Spring Sports Championships that faced our section, the other nine sections in the state and the CIF State Office, are important decisions and we do not take them lightly. While I have the ultimate responsibility to make decisions that are in the best interests of our section I do not do so in a vacuum. Specifically, the advice of the Centers of Disease Control, as well as other federal, state and local health authorities were vital toward helping us navigate our path forward. We have certainly relied on that advice and the recommendations of those entities to help guide us in that regard. The medical experts have been very clear that this situation is rapidly developing, and all indications are that it will not be under control for a significant period of me. 

I realize that the goals, dreams and aspirations of student-athletes, coaches, Athletic Directors, Principals, parents, officials and fans have been dashed by this decision. There will be no way to replace the opportunities that a full and complete sport season would have afforded them, especially with all that they have invested in their efforts. That weighed very heavily on the ultimate decision that we had to make. 

Here is my hope for when we resume normal activities and get back to education-based athletics. It is my sincere hope that there will be a renewed appreciation for high school athletic programs and how truly special they are. Perhaps education-based athletics has been taken for granted at times and now that it is temporarily gone, we will return to the fields, gymnasiums, pools, courts, etc., with a stronger commitment to teaching the life lessons that our student-athletes learn through their experiences par cipa ng in education-based athletics.

Let us dedicate ourselves to having more compassion and understanding of the roles that coaches, administrators and officials play in helping make all of the games and matches happen and that we con nue to emphasize the best qualities of excellent sportsmanship and great character for all involved. We now have the chance to reset our priorities and can utilize this opportunity to help us move forward in a positive way. It is my hope that you will join me in doing everything we can to try and make a difference for everyone involved in the me ahead. 

I wish all of you, and your families, health, safety and security in these uncertain times. There will be better days ahead and I look forward to enjoying them with you when that me comes. 

Thank you very much for your continued help and support, it is truly appreciated. 

Here’s our story from earlier in the week asking for team photos that were shot earlier this season. We don’t want anyone taking pictures now.