Having been idle since March, the resumption of local high school athletics has been delayed until December as coronavirus-related restrictions continue in California. 

The revised 2020-2021 calendar from the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced July 20 calls for some sports to switch seasons and condenses three seasons’ worth of sports into two. 

The schedule, which is subject to final approval by the CIF-Southern Section executive committee, came after an extensive review of the pandemic-affected landscape that forced the closure of campuses and the cancellation of the 2020 spring sports season last March. 

“If we are to deliver fall, winter and spring sports this coming year, it will require vision, creativity, flexibility, teamwork and unwavering commitment from all involved,” said Rob Wigod, commissioner of the CIF-Southern Section, the largest of the 10 CIF sections statewide. 

“Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures, and there is no doubt that this is where we are right now.” 

Wigod noted that as schools reopen and students return to campus, “provided state and local health authorities deem it safe to do so, schools can begin their pre-season preparations as they see fit, depending on what is allowed by local health authorities during that time period.”

Over the last four months, the state CIF office has consulted with its standing sports medicine committee, which meets regularly during the year to discuss medical issues that relate to athletics. 

“The situation has continued to be fluid,” said Thom Simmons, CIF-SS assistant commissioner, adding that the course of the virus will continue to be a factor in determining if and how competition will take place. 

“If we get into December and the numbers have not been reigned in,” he said, “then we will have to re-evaluate at that time.”

“Summertime Rules” extended

CIF member athletic programs are currently operating under “Summertime Rules,” meaning they are under the authority of the school principal. Those rules have been extended from the start of the school year to December and the scheduled beginning of fall sports.

The 20-21 sports calendar is subject to final approval by the CIF-SS executive committee at its meeting Aug. 13, when the calendar will be considered as an “emergency action item.”  

In creating the new schedule, CIF officials considered multiple scenarios, finally deciding to condense fall, winter and spring sports into two seasons:

---Fall: Boys’ and girls’ cross country, volleyball and water polo; 11- and 8-man football; field hockey and gymnastics. 

---Spring: Boys’ and girls’ basketball, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, and wrestling; badminton, baseball and softball. 

In prior years, girls’ golf and tennis were fall sports; boys’ volleyball was in the spring; and basketball, soccer and wrestling, plus girls’ water polo, were in the winter.

The maximum regular season length for any sport has been standardized to approximately 72 days to help avoid an overlap of seasons that impact student-athletes, coaches and facilities, said Wigod. Soccer (83 days) and basketball (81 days) previously had longer regular seasons, but most sports’ seasons had been shorter than 72 days.

Later start dates

Additionally, no sports will hold their first competitive events until December, and some sports seasons will be shortened. CIF-SS championship competitions will take place as normal, but state and regional championship competitions will be “streamlined,” said Wigod.

For example, schools participating in football will hold their first practice sessions on Dec. 14, and play their first games on Jan. 8. The first boys’ volleyball matches are scheduled on Dec. 12, girls’ volleyball on Dec. 19, boys’ water polo on Dec. 21, cross country on Dec. 26, and girls’ water polo on Dec. 28.

CIF-SS championship finals are scheduled in March for cross country, volleyball and water polo, and 11-man football in early April with state championship bowl games on April 16 and 17.

For spring sports, soccer and tennis begin their regular seasons in late February, with most first contests taking place in mid-March, around the time the fall sports’ championships are concluding. Spring sports’ championship round competition is scheduled throughout June, ending with state track and field championships June 25-26, and CIF-SS title games in baseball and softball on June 26.