As of midday Friday, California has 10,701 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19, according to a tweet from Governor Gavin Newsom. Now more than 7,000 people in the U.S. have died from coronavirus.
Friday's news out of the CIF-State office was as expected.
The 10 section commissioners met via conference call with executive director Ron Nocetti and confirmed what had been feared for weeks and became painfully obvious this week: That the spring sports season was canceled.
"In consultation today with the 10 Section Commissioners, the decision has been made to cancel spring Section, Regional, and State Championship events," Nocetti wrote in a post on the State CIF site.
The week began with a recommendation from state superintendent of public instruction Tony Thurmond for a continuation of "distance learning" for the remainder of the school year. Thurmond sent that letter to 58 county superintendents on Tuesday.
The following day, Newsom took Thurmond's recommendation a step further by announcing that all schools would be closed for the remainder of the school year.
Nocetti and the state's section commissioners had no wiggle room. Here's the entirety of his posted statement:
SACRAMENTO, CALIF. - Based on the recent statements issued by Governor Newsom and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, regarding schools turning to distance learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) does not see an avenue for the spring sports season to continue. As such, in consultation today with the 10 Section Commissioners, the decision has been made to cancel spring Section, Regional, and State Championship events.
We understand this is disappointing for everyone involved in education-based athletics and empathize with our student-athletes and all who are impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. As always, our top priority is everyone's ongoing health and safety during this challenging time, and we all look forward to the day when education-based athletics resumes.
CIF Executive Director
Rob Wigod, the commissioner over the Southern Section, by far the largest of the state's 10 sections, posted a detailed statement titled "A Message of Hope" that also includes "Talking Points" related to eligibility, SOP, hardship waivers, et cet.
"In arriving at this decision, I know that my colleagues and I thought about our student-athletes first, as in everything we do and our entire organization does, each and every day," Wigod wrote. "The health and safety of our student-athletes is always our highest priority, and it is with that in mind that we did what we believed we had to do, not only for them, but for all our stakeholders. These are unprecedented times for all of us and the most difficult situation I have faced in my 20 years working for the CIF Southern Section Office."
Athletic events began to cancel en masse during the second week of March as the threat of the rapid spread of the virus became more apparent. The CIF had just completed its third weekend of outdoor track and field when the season was suspended.
The calendar had been aligned for section prelims beginning the second weekend in May, divisional finals around the middle of the month, section finals/State Meet qualifiers on or about May 23 with the 102nd State Championships scheduled for May 29-30 at Clovis Buchanan HS.
This will be the first time the CIF-State Track and Field Championships have not been held since World War II (1942-45).
Wigod writes in "A Message of Hope" that when normal activities resume that it "will be (with) a renewed appreciation for high school athletic programs and how truly special they are. Perhaps education-based athletics has been taken for granted at times, and now that it is temporarily gone, we will return to the fields, gymnasiums, pools, courts, etc., with a stronger commitment to teaching the life lessons that our student-athletes learn through their experiences participating in education-based athletics."
Find Wigod's entire message and "Talking Points" at cifss.org.
In a release posted to the Los Angeles City Section site, LAC Commissioner Vicky Lagos wrote:
"As difficult a decision this was, we must look out for the well-being of each of our student-athletes, coaches, and educators. Our Section is heartbroken that we will not continue with spring sports. The opportunity for a student-athlete to participate in sports plays a valuable and integral part of their character formation as a teenager and young adult.
"We are heartbroken that so many of our student-athletes and especially the senior class will not be able to continue competing in the sport they desire. During this unprecedented time, overcoming this adversity will be a defining 'championship' moment for each of our athletes."