State Championships Canceled; Season Start On Hold

Below find releases from both the CIF-State and CIF-Southern Section from Tuesday afternoon regarding the status of return-to-play for education-based athletics.

The CIF-State office, in a release Tuesday afternoon, announced the cancelation of Regional and State championships for fall sports designed to allow for the potential of a more complete season at the section level.

The State office also announced that all full practice and competition start dates are officially on hold until updated return-to-sports guidance from the California Department of Public Health is provided.

In July, the CIF-State reconfigured the sports calendar to move all fall sports into a winter season with regional and state competition moving -- in the case of cross country -- from late November to late March. Tuesday's announcement removed regional and state competition from the end of March, potentially -- public health permitting -- allowing sections more scheduling flexibility to provide a more complete season for more teams and athletes. 

In the case of the Southern Section, the status of section-level championships will be announced on January 19, CIF-SS Commissioner Rob Wigod says in the second release below.

Release from the CIF-State office

CIF Statement Regarding Education-Based Athletics for 2020-21 School Year

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. - Due to the continued surge in COVID-19 infections, the California Department of Public Health has postponed the issuance of its updated youth sports guidance. The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) does not expect the CDPH will issue any guidance allowing for schools to return to full practice and competition until after January 1, 2021, at the earliest. Thus, all full practice and competition start dates are officially on hold until updated guidance is issued.

Therefore, to provide the 10 CIF Sections, our 1,605 member schools, and more than 800,000 student-athletes the best opportunity to compete in Season 1 Sports, once allowed by the CDPH and local county offices of public health, the CIF State Office is removing all Regional and State Championship events from the Season 1 Sports calendar. By canceling Regional and State Championship events, more student-athletes will have the opportunity to participate in a longer season, rather than a truncated season with Regional and State post-season play for a limited number of schools.

Additionally, boys volleyball will be moved to Season 2 to avoid the loss of a second full season, and an updated Season 2 calendar to include boys volleyball will be posted in January.

The CIF is confident this decision is a necessary and reasonable action for our member schools, student-athletes, and school communities in light of the current statewide crisis. This revision to the CIF State 2020-21 Season 1 Sports calendar offers our Sections and Leagues the flexibility and needed time to plan for the return to practice and competition once updated guidance is provided by the CDPH.

Release from CIF-Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod

I hope you and your families are well. Here is the latest update...

1) Are We Going to Play? - In July, we made the decision to delay the start of the CIF sports calendar state-wide so that we would be able to have full regular seasons and full section championships for all sports during the 2020-2021 school year. We believed that if we allowed the maximum amount of time possible to gain control of the situation we could deliver to our student-athletes what we all want for them and give them what they deserve. Since July, there clearly has not been any progress made toward gaining control of the pandemic, in fact, it has gotten worse and here is where we are on December 1.

The same scenario has been in place since the onset of the pandemic in March and the closures of our schools last Spring. Individual schools/school districts/private schools have the sole responsibility to determine when their schools will re-open for academics, and then after doing so, determine when their athletic programs could return to campus as well, following guidelines from state and local health authorities. Regardless of any calendar that we adopted, that reality is what drives where we have been, where we are now and where we are trying to go.

Since the beginning of October, we have been actively working with the California Department of Public Health trying to get a plan approved for return to play for education-based athletics. The plan was developed by our CIF Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, which is made up of doctors and other health professionals from around the state. The centerpiece of our proposal was an attempt to incorporate the four colored tier system: purple, red, orange and yellow, that is applied to each of California's 58 counties, and directly connect those color designations to high school sports. In other words, what does it mean for practice and/or competition if your county is in the purple tier, red tier, orange tier, yellow tier? Included in our plan was a sport-by-sport breakdown of various health and safety protocols to be implemented for each specific sport that incorporates the differences between what is recommended for Volleyball and how it is different from Cross-Country, different from Football, etc. We believe that information would be extremely useful to you in navigating through practices and competitions held on our campuses. The original plan we submitted has been reviewed by the California Department of Public Health and we have been awaiting their response, which was expected a couple of weeks ago. However, with the recent surge of COVID-19 in California during the month of November, the CDPH has not yet provided guidelines for us to follow and we are not sure when that will happen. We are prepared to receive the information from the CDPH whenever they are ready to deliver it, and as soon as it becomes available, I will certainly share it with you.

2) What Does This Mean for Fall Sports? 

  • A) CIF State and Regional Championships - This afternoon, the CIF State Office announced that all CIF State and/or CIF Regional Championships for Fall Sports have been cancelled. Also, CIF Boys Volleyball Regional Championships have been moved to the Spring season and the specific dates for the CIF Boys Regional Volleyball Championships will be announced in January. The full release from the CIF State Office is attached to this update and is available on their website,
  • B) CIF Southern Section Championships - As I have said previously, our sports calendar for Fall Sports and Spring Sports for the 2020-2021 school year is in place and will remain in place. If schools are not able to begin practice/competition for Fall Sports in mid-December, as originally planned, then the hope would be you can begin at a time in the future that would allow you to do so. In that instance, unfortunately, there would have to be postponements/cancellations of athletic contests at the start of the Fall Sports season, but league play and post-season play would remain as scheduled. If regular seasons are shortened, it would be at the front end of the season, keeping the back end of the season unchanged. It is our intention for post-season play to be a destination for schools who are able to play this Fall, even more so if regular seasons are reduced at the beginning. Time will tell what that will look like, but as I have said throughout the period of time in preparation of the 2020-2021 sports calendars, all options will be on the table for post-season play as well. On Tuesday, January 19, 2021, when we have a better sense of the overall situation at that time, I will update you on the status of Southern Section Championships for Fall Sports.

3) What are the Next Steps? - As has always been the case, individual schools/school districts/private schools have the sole responsibility of determining what athletic activities you will allow on your campuses, following the guidelines from state and local health authorities. These guidelines are not CIF Bylaws contained in our Blue Book, but are recommendations made by health professionals who have the obligation to enforce the guidelines they have recommended. We must now try and meet the challenges ahead of us for moving forward with Boys/Girls Cross-Country, Boys/Girls Volleyball, Boys/Girls Water Polo and Football. It will be a difficult task, but one that we must try and do everything within our power to accomplish.

4) Financial Matters - Based on the current situation facing us, the potential loss of revenue from sports championships that may not be held or if they are held with no spectators, and the reality that sports championships make up approximately 60% of our budgeted income, our projection for a final Profit and Loss for fiscal 2020-2021 is currently a loss of $275,000, which includes the implementation of the following measures ...

  1. All marketing contracts fulfilled.
  2. Minimum broadcast rights contracts fulfilled.
  3. All Sports Fees received.
  4. Conservative projections on investment interest income.
  5. Furlough of support staff wages & benefits on January 1, 2021.
  6. Reduction of benefits for contracted staff through June 30, 2021.
  7. Payout and usage of all staff accrued vacation.
  8. Remote work to lessen in office utility usage/supplies/janitorial.
  9. Spending freeze on non-essential supplies, services and travel.

Obviously, the expenses we possibly can control but the revenue projections are uncertain at this moment. The loss could be as large as $600,000-$700,000, which would necessitate the use of our cash reserves to cover the shortfall.

5) Final Thought - Where we are today is not as important as where we are on December 15, 2020, January 4, 2021 or January 19, 2021. In the time we have before the new year and into the new year, we must strive to make progress within our Southern Section footprint to have the opportunity to return to play when the time comes. Let us resolve to do everything we can to make that happen for our student-athletes.

I hope this information is useful to you in the time ahead and if you have any questions, or I can help you in any way at all, do not hesitate to contact me. My staff and I are ready, willing and able to assist you in any way we possibly can.

Thank you very much for your help and support, it is truly appreciated. Be well, stay safe, take care and all the best to you and your families.