The California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section, in conjunction with the CIF State office, announced Monday that high school sports for the 2020-21 school year will not start until the middle of December and beginning of January.
The section proposed two seasons — labeled Fall and Spring — that would give a chance for all sports to be played from January to June.
“The reason for that was to help with the overlap of sports, trying to have some separation between the two seasons to allow for dual-sport athletes, for coaches who coach more than one sport and for maximizing the utilization of school facilities,” said Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod during a Zoom press conference on Monday afternoon.
Fall sports include football, which is set for a Jan. 8 start, boys/girls volleyball, cross country, field hockey, gymnastics, traditional competitive cheer and boys/girls water polo.
Boys and girls volleyball will start Dec. 12 and 19, respectively.
Cross country’s start date is set for Dec. 26. Running in much cooler, and possibly damper, weather will be an interesting factor for the long distance runners.
There will not be a Week Zero for football, which will get to play 10 games with the final regular season contest on March 4.
Spring sports include everything else: baseball, boys/girls basketball, boys/girls golf, boys/girls soccer, softball, boys/girls swimming and diving, boys/girls tennis, boys/girls track and field, boys/girls wrestling, badminton, competitive sport cheer and boys/girls lacrosse.
“If we are going to have fall, winter and spring sports this upcoming school year, it will require vision, creativity, flexibility, teamwork and an unwavering commitment for everyone to get the job done,” Wigod said, adding, “I truly believe we can do it.”
Boys and girls basketball start on March 12 and will end May 21, while boys and girls golf begins March 20 and ends May 28.
Boys and girls soccer will start Feb. 27 and run until May 6, while baseball goes from March 19 to May 28 and softball is from March 19 to May 27.
Girls tennis is set to begin Feb. 22 and run until May 7, while boys tennis begins March 1 and will run until May 14.
Boys and girls swimming will get a relatively normal start on March 13 and end on May 21, while boys and girls track will be from March 20 to May 28 and boys and girls wrestling will run from March 5 to May 11.
The Southern Section playoffs will run well into June for the spring sports, while the 11-man football championship games are set for the weekend of April 9 and 10.
The CIF State Office said CIF Regional and State Championships would be no longer than a week after the section championships have concluded. They did not announce formats for those playoffs.
Wigod said this plan took a long time to come to fruition. He said a different plan might have been proposed on July 1, but the increasing number of Coronavirus cases affected the decision to postpone all of the sports.
“We have obviously seen what’s happened over the last several weeks, especially the impact that it has made,” Wigod said. “That’s where we really started to focus on going to two seasons and how we might be able to get in all of our sports that way, versus three seasons.”
In order to make these two seasons work, the Southern Section also modified some of its bylaws for just this school year.
Bylaws 600-605, which excludes athletes from competing in travel sports during the high school season, have been suspended.
“The thought behind this decision was it would not be a realistic expectation, with the major adjustments of our sports seasons, that we would still prohibit students from participating in contests for outside teams during the high school season of sport,” Wigod said.
Summertime rules have also been extended. This means football camps, basketball summer tournaments and the like could be played later this year in preparation for the upcoming season. The decision to join in these activities is up to the discretion of the school’s principal.
Schools and local health officials will also be responsible for monitoring student-athletes’ health regarding the Coronavirus. Schools are also responsible for whether or not to allow fans and media at the games.