In a move that’s been widely expected for the last two weeks, the CIF State office announced that it’s pushing back the start of the high school sports season in California to December and January. Click here for our first story including the full releases from CIF State and CIF-SS.
The three seasons of Fall, Winter and Spring are being split into two categories: Fall, and Spring, with Winter sports being split between the two. The Fall sports season will begin in December and last approximately three months. The Spring sports season will begin in March and run until late June.
The CIF Southern Section, the section that all Long Beach schools compete in, announced further details of the schedule later in the day on Monday. CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod stressed that it’s going to be a strange year.
“This endeavor began in April; we’ve been working every day to deliver fall winter and spring sports for the 2020-21 school year,” he said. “As you know the possible scenarios have changed constantly. They’ve changed even more dramatically in just the last couple of weeks.”
Wigod said that splitting the season in two instead of its usual thirds allows them to condense the timeline for competition without shortening the seasons. Rumors had been flying that only league contests would be allowed or that playoffs wouldn’t happen. Instead, every sport will still get 90-100% of the time on the calendar that it gets in a normal year, and there’s no reduction in the maximum number of contests a team can schedule.
“We’ll have the same number of section champions and divisions in each sport, the same number of league entrants to the playoffs,” said Wigod.
Besides the drastically different start dates, the only major change to the structure of the seasons is that the CIF State is drastically reducing the state tournaments to eliminate regional competition. Football teams that win a CIF-SS championship would advance directly to a State Championship contest, in other words, without a Regional Championship in between.
Several other bylaws were changed in order to accommodate competition this year, including the temporary revocation of the bylaw that prohibits athletes from playing for their high schools at the same time as they’re competing for a private club. Because the volleyball, soccer, and basketball seasons now take place during the typical club season, that temporary change was necessary.
“State executive director Ron Nocetti made a good proactive move and said if we are moving seasons that drastically, we can’t expect that offseason clubs be prohibited,” said Wigod. “With that being said, it will be prohibited after this school year.”
Wigod said the “hope and intention” of the Southern Section is to have a regular schedule for the 2021-22 year, and that all bylaw and calendar changes will revert to the normal structure at the conclusion of the 2020-21 school year.
He also stressed the flexibility that he thinks will be necessary to bringing student-athletes in California back to competition.
“All options are on the table,” he said, including moving the start of the Fall and Spring sports seasons back by a few more weeks. “We won’t dismiss a single option that could allow our student-athletes to compete.”
Wigod also stressed that he’s hoping adults involved in high school sports, from coaches to administrators to CIF-SS employees, can model resilience and positivity for the state’s student-athletes.
“We have no plans to cancel seasons or sports–there will be difficult choices to be made by everyone, but that’s preferable to not having a choice to make, which is what happened in April,” he said. “It’s vital that we adults do everything we can for all student-athletes. They’ve had enough negativity from this situation, and they’re looking for positivity going forward. This is when we show them that we can get the job done. What an opportunity we have to teach them that we can do this.”
First contests for each sports will be as follows for the 2020-21 school year:
Football 1/8/21, cross country 12/26/20, girls’ volleyball 12/19/20, boys’ volleyball 12/20/20, boys’ water polo 12/21/20, girls’ water polo 12/28/20
Boys’ and girls’ soccer 2/27/21, boys’ and girls’ basketball 3/12/21, baseball 3/19/21, softball 3/19/21, boys and girls’ golf 3/20/21, lacrosse 3/12/21, swimming 3/13/21, girls’ tennis 2/22/21, boys’ tennis 3/1/21, track and field 3/20/21, wrestling 3/5/21.