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CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod hints that the 2020-21 sports season will not start on time CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod hints that the 2020-21 sports season will not start on time
CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod was on AM-570 with Fred Roggin and Rodney Peete during their lunchtime radio show on Tuesday and gave... CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod hints that the 2020-21 sports season will not start on time

CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod was on AM-570 with Fred Roggin and Rodney Peete during their lunchtime radio show on Tuesday and gave the biggest indication yet that the 2020-21 high school sports season that is scheduled to start with fall sports in late August, including football, will likely be pushed backed several months because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In mid-March, schools were ordered shut down and they finished the school year with online distance learning. The spring sports were shut down as well, canceling the CIF-SS spring championships. It was the first time the CIF-SS baseball finals had been canceled since World War II.

And with COVID-19 cases currently surging in Southern California, things are not much better now, which will likely impact the CIF State and Southern Section’s decision on Monday on how to proceed with the 2020-21 sports season calendar.

Several local coaches and athletic directors have hinted the past few weeks that they don’t expect the high school sports season to start until at least January, and Wigod’s comments Tuesday certainly pointed in that direction.

Peete asked Wigod about high school sports teams that had started summer workouts, and then shut down. Some schools shut down on the advice from health officials, while others shut down, simply saying they will await CIF’s decision on Monday.

Those that practiced, and some schools are continuing to do so, are mostly using the time for conditioning, following strict COVID-19 safety guidelines, practicing in small groups, and not sharing equipment, such as not using football’s during practice.

“I know a lot of that movement was expecting a sports season to come up in August and September, etc.,” Wigod told the radio station. “But I don’t think anyone realistically can see that happening, and therefore it will be their decisions to continue those kinds of things.”

Wigod noted that by pushing the fall season back, those teams will have the additional benefit of having more time to prepare for their season. Wigod essentially noted that the late spring and summer months, which schools normally use to prepare for the fall, had accomplished very little toward that goal, and teams need that preparation before starting up.

“They’re going to have a lot more time to hopefully provide a more normal preparation for the season as they would normally have done in March, April, May, June, July,” Wigod said of pushing the fall season back. “Those (preparation) months might be September, October and November.

“That would be an opportunity for them to do what they normally do prior to a season versus now, which is trying very limited workouts. That’s a big stretch doing 10 students and one coach. You can’t throw the football back and forth, you can’t pass the basketball. Those are very, very baby steps in terms of what you would need to get full practices back and actual competition back.

“In some respects, by pushing things back, we take some of that pressure off where they don’t feel like they’re really going to miss out and be under the gun.”

Los Angeles Unified and several other school districts this week announced they plan to begin the school year with online distance learning only, and will ease back to campus-based instruction based on health recommendations from local and state officials.

While several public school districts will start with online distance learning, many private schools plan to return to campus full-time as much as possible, with maybe a day or two of online instruction, using a hybrid off/on approach.

The many scenarios have created a big puzzle for CIF State and the sections to solve because they do not decide when schools return to campus or when sports can resume. That is up to each school district and each private school.

Gathering all of that information and trying to create a sports calendar that satisfies everyone is nearly impossible.

This is why the high school sports season won’t start on time in the fall. The likely scenario, several sources with knowledge of CIF’s thinking explain, is that the fall season will start in January, and the winter and spring seasons will follow, creating three shortened seasons over a six-month period.

Wigod didn’t discuss that scenario specifically Tuesday during his radio interview, but he explained how difficult the puzzle is to solve.

“It’s quite a conundrum,” Wigod said. “And we all realize that. What we’re trying to do in terms of a plan going forward is to allow time to work for us and try to do the best we can to put the calendar together and having to start sports later obviously.

“I remember saying we could start the season on September 14 and finish by the end of December, and a month ago that was potentially possible. And we all know what has happened since then (COVID-19 cases locally have spiked), so some of those ideas have to be set aside and we have to see how we can let time work for us and how can we see the next several months play out.

“Certainly, schools have to be open and be comfortable with opening academically, and if it is possible to be done we want to be prepared for that to bring back high school athletics.”

On Monday night, the Orange County Board of Education made headlines by approving recommendations for the reopening of its member schools by a 4-1 vote. The board raised a lot of eyebrows by recommending that schools should reopen without requiring social distance measures, face coverings or limiting class sizes.

Orange County school districts are not likely to follow those recommendations, as it will be up to each district to decide on how it will return to school.

Peete asked Wigod an interesting question. What if Orange County was back in school and ready for fall sports, but others, especially Los Angeles City schools, needed many more months to be ready?

Could there be sports for Orange County and not other areas?

Wigod hinted that’s not a scenario they’re considering.

“I don’t think the CIF is going to be part of that kind of plan going forward,” Wigod said. “I think our attempt here and effort we’re making is to be as inclusive as we possibly can.

“We know there are certain school districts and certain areas are going to take a slower approach, and I think it’s important the access to education and access to high school athletics is possible for as many students as we can make it happen.”