This story has been updated with quotes from CIF-SS Commissioner Rob Wigod during Monday’s press conference.
The CIF-Southern Section has just announced that there will be postseason play in the 2020-21 school year. With recent changes to California Department of Public Health (CDPH) guidelines permitting schools to travel across multiple county lines for competition, the CIF-SS is prepared to host section championships for a majority of spring sports. During this afternoon’s press conference, CIF-SS Commissioner Rob Wigod was upbeat about the opportunity to hold section championships for spring sports following such a tumultuous year.
“We’re going to hand plaques out again,” said Wigod during his online press conference. “We’re going to see those smiles, we’re going to see those dogpiles, we’re going to see everyone jumping up and down and celebrating–all those things that we’ve missed. We’re looking forward to that.”
In this morning’s announcement, the CIF-SS outlined the following team sports that will be able to conduct postseason competition: baseball, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, softball, team tennis, boys’ volleyball, and dual meet wrestling.
Furthermore, the CIF-SS is working to host championships for additional “meet” sports this spring for golf, swimming/diving, individual tennis, and track & field. In order to hold those championship meets, the CIF-SS will need approval from the various health departments to bring together athletes from all eight counties under their purview.
Wigod confirmed that some health departments have already given approval for hosting such events with competitors from several different counties. While he was unwilling to confirm which counties had already given the green light, and he would not make any guarantees about the viability of these sectional meets, Wigod seemed optimistic about the chances of seeing those competitions take place.
“If we have county approval to hold an event which would involve student athletes from all eight of our counties, if the county where the event is being held will approve that to happen, I would find it really hard to believe that the counties where the students will be traveling from would say no,” Wigod explained. “I have to believe if we get local approval first, why would the other eight counties not be willing to allow their student-athletes to travel to that particular event?
“We’ve already been in contact with health departments, and we’ve actually seen some approvals already. So we’d just like to keep pursuing that effort and make sure that we can get these finalized.”
Based on current CDPH guidelines, the CIF-SS will not be hosting a section championship for individual wrestling due to its classification as a “high-contact indoor sport.”
While Wigod was unable to speculate about capacity for spectators at the CIF-SS events, he was generally optimistic about the improving situation surrounding COVID-19 with declining case rates and positivity rates throughout Southern California.
“That remains to be seen and I have no way of knowing for sure if that’s going to happen or not,” said Wigod in regards to fans attending playoff events. “I do know if the numbers keep getting better, we see the improvements, we see the vaccines, we see what’s going on, all of that is only positive, it’s only good for what we have in front of us.”
Wigod expects the CIF-SS to stick with the currently scheduled dates for spring playoffs, and to maintain the same number of divisions and playoff rounds for each sport. There could certainly be changes, and as of now the championships game will be played at school sites rather than a designated championship location. But regardless of how things play out, today’s announcement solidifies some form of championship competition in 2021.
“We want them to play,” said Wigod of the CIF-SS athletes. “They want to play, and they want to play for championships. And if that means that we have some issues with capacity, that’s not going to determine whether we play or not. We’re going to play and we owe that to our student athletes and to our programs. We told them that we would do that and would give them a chance. That we would make every effort to see that become reality, and that’s what we’re saying today.”