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CIF sets 2020-21 high school sports calendar, which would begin in December

CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod speaks during a Zoom news conference Monday.
CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod addresses media members during a Zoom news conference on Monday, when the section outlined start dates for 2020-21 sports.
(Screen capture by Matt Szabo)

The CIF State office released a modified 2020-21 calendar for high school sports seasons in the state on Monday morning, as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Soon after, the CIF Southern Section office released more detailed dates for high school sports, which would be divided into fall sports and spring sports. The fall sports season would begin in December, according to the schedule, if state requirements for the coronavirus were met at that time. Most sports would conduct CIF championship games in March.

Traditional fall sports including football, girls’ volleyball, boys’ water polo, boys’ and girls’ cross-country and field hockey remain in that season. Boys’ volleyball, girls’ water polo, gymnastics and traditional competitive cheerleading will also be fall sports in 2020-21.

Football would be allowed a full 10-week regular season under the schedule. Practice would begin on Dec. 14, with Week One games scheduled for Jan. 8, 2021. Teams would go straight from CIF Southern Section Championship games on April 9 and 10 to the CIF State Championships the following weekend, taking away the CIF Southern California Football Regional games.

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Spring sports include baseball, softball, competitive sports cheerleading and boys’ and girls’ seasons for basketball, soccer, lacrosse, golf, swimming and diving, track and field and wrestling. The spring sports season would start with games in March for most sports and run through late May to June.

CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod said in a Zoom news conference that the length of each regular season would last about 72 days. Each sport will have the same amount of Southern Section champions, divisions and guaranteed entrees into the playoffs as it had in previous years.

“In terms of the distribution of sports in these two seasons, there are instances where there are more sports in these two seasons than you would normally see spread across three seasons of sport,” Wigod said. “But there is no way that you can go from a time frame of August through June, to December through June, and be able to offer every single sport in the same manner without the months of August, September, October and November in play.

“The alternative would be to just cancel an entire season or seasons ... and I do not believe that anyone preferred that option. We had hoped that we could have fall, winter and spring sports during the 2020-21 school year. That’s been our focus for the last four months, and that’s what we announced today.”

Corona del Mar football team celebrates after defeating Serra 35-27.
The Corona del Mar High football team celebrates after defeating San Mateo Serra 35-27 in the CIF State Division 1-A title game at Cerritos College on Dec. 14, 2019. The first football games in the 2020-21 school year would take place on Jan. 8, the CIF Southern Section office announced Monday.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

Wigod said the section considered having sports where social distancing is possible, like cross-country, tennis or golf, during the fall months. But the recent COVID-19 spike in the state moved the needle against that, he said. On Friday, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that schools cannot physically reopen until their counties have been off the state’s coronavirus watch list for 14 consecutive days.

“The worst thing in the world would be to get them started, then we pull them back and say, ‘No, we have to shut you down,’” Wigod said. “I think about July 1 or so, if we were making this announcement, it might have been something that we were more looking to have happen. But I think we’ve seen in this month alone just how much that has changed. The biggest thing everyone has to realize, what changed is the schools, and the schools not being open and not having students on campus. That’s what happened to us in April, and last Friday, that’s kind of what happened to us with the governor’s announcement. People have to realize that.

“Yes, maybe our girls’ golfers can get around the golf course right now, but they’re not on campus. They won’t be in school. They won’t be part of a campus where the high school principal, athletic director and so forth would have them driving in cars or vans to go to a golf match, or our tennis teams getting on a bus to go to a tennis match. I think people have to really understand that the game-changer has been the ability of our schools to be open for academics first.”

Athletic directors will now get to work to make schedules for their team’s respective seasons, which could be difficult. Water polo teams from both genders will be sharing the pool, and volleyball teams will be sharing the court. Football, soccer, lacrosse and track teams will all be fighting for field space in the spring.

Wigod said that possibly having spectators at games would be up to schools and local health authorities, not the CIF Southern Section. Also notably, the CIF State office is suspending Bylaws 600-605, meaning student-athletes will be able to compete on their high school and club teams simultaneously.

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