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CIF commissioner Rob Wigod optimistic about return of high school sports

Rob Wigod, the commissioner of the CIF Southern Section, said the message is clear that schools want to play sports again, and he is committed to making that happen, even if it means doing so without fans.
(Photo by Andrew Turner)

Rob Wigod, the commissioner of athletics for the CIF Southern Section, has consistently said recently that the section has a goal to have a fall, a winter and a spring sports season in the school year to come.

Although it is not known exactly when high school sports will be able to return after the coronavirus pandemic forced a shutdown, Wigod has maintained that the section will be ready when it is deemed safe to play.

“I always just say to people, ‘You give me a date and I’ll give you a calendar,’ and that’s true,” Wigod said. “We’re prepared for any eventuality, but the question that no one has the answer [to] on May 28 is, ‘What is the date?’”

The original calendar for high school sports in the section remains in place at present. Time will tell just how creative and flexible CIF has to be to work in a fall sports season, but Wigod has no intention of moving forward without one.

Some contingency plans would include pushing back the start of the season. A period for student-athletes to re-acclimate themselves to the training regimens associated with their sports, a league schedule and full section playoffs would be the minimum that CIF is hoping for in any plan to get back on the field.

“We would have to be cognizant of definitely including league play,” Wigod said. “I don’t believe we can really have a viable regular season without full league play and allow leagues to have that take place, and then obviously send their playoff entries to us for our section championships.”

As was the case when spring sports were sent to the sideline by COVID-19, the ability to resume athletic activities is an issue to be discussed and ruled on by local schools, local school districts and private schools following the guidelines of local and state authorities, Wigod said, adding that the CIF will not be in a position to mandate certain health and safety protocols.

With 567 member schools, Wigod suspects that a variety of decisions will be made across the expansive geographic area that the section encompasses.

There are 10 sections of the CIF in total. Only the Southern Section has at least 200 member schools (Sac-Joaquin Section has 198).

Wigod added that the message is clear that schools want to play sports again, and he is committed to making that happen in whatever way possible, even if it means doing so without fans.

“We can’t make decisions as important as these and use finances as a main factor in that decision,” Wigod said. “If we get to that point where games can be conducted but there won’t be, or the recommendations from the health professionals are not to allow fans, then I believe our membership wants to play.

“I would see us doing that. It would be hard. I don’t know how you keep parents and their fellow students and people that want to come and watch from being able to do so, but again, it would be preferable, I know, for our schools to play, even without fans versus not to play at all.”

Should high school sports return in the fall, CIF is set to see a return of its boys’ and girls’ cross-country postseason to the famed course at Mt. San Antonio College.

The CIF also plans to roll out a new football playoff format that will place teams in a playoff division based on in-season performance.

The section would also once again be looking forward to its first-ever boys’ and girls’ lacrosse championships after the coronavirus wiped out the spring sports season.

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