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Robledo: Let’s end the drama, virtually no chance high school sports will start before January Robledo: Let’s end the drama, virtually no chance high school sports will start before January
More than a month ago, CIF State along with its section representatives, which include the  Southern Section and L.A. City Section, said it would... Robledo: Let’s end the drama, virtually no chance high school sports will start before January

More than a month ago, CIF State along with its section representatives, which include the  Southern Section and L.A. City Section, said it would make a decision by July 20 about the 2020-21 sports season — a date that is fast approaching with football games scheduled in late August, which almost nobody thinks will happen.

But why wait? The COVID-19 concerns that forced schools and its athletic teams to shut down in the middle of March are the same concerns today.

California, along with other parts of the country, are seeing surges in COVID-19 again, making it nearly impossible for the CIF to come back next week and plan for games in the fall. And especially not at a time when schools are still struggling with decisions on the best way to resume classes in August, with most believing a hybrid of online learning and a couple days on campus are the most likely scenarios.

We’ve seen some professional teams return recently with mixed reviews. Major League Soccer, which is playing its MLS is Back tournament in the Orlando bubble, already has seen two of its teams pull out of the tournament because too many players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The NBA and MLB, which are expected to begin later this month, also have had positive cases among its teams, and these are professional teams, where daily testing will be the norm and where athletes will be more watched and isolated than any athletes in the country.

Major college football teams have reported multiple positive cases as they started to return to practice, and already the Ivy League has pushed its football games back to the spring.

Will others follow? As each day passes, there are growing concerns that big-time college football will not resume in the fall.

The California Community College Athletic Association announced last week that the fall season has been moved to its spring semester, that no team practices will start until January and there is a February start date for football. The CCCAA will try to attempt to play all sports over two seasons that would end in June.

In New Mexico, state officials have already canceled high school football and soccer for the fall and pushed both back to the spring.

In Texas, where high school football is like religion, Michael Hinojosa, in charge of the Dallas Independent School District, was asked if he thought the Lone Star state would be playing football in the fall.

“I seriously doubt it,” Hinoja said.

If there is no high school football in Texas, what chance do you think California has?

So what is CIF waiting for? What is another week going to change?

Let me end the suspense: High school football is not happening in the fall. Not unless there’s some shocking and miraculous conversations going on behind the scenes.

There could possibly be sports, such as golf, tennis and cross country, sanctioned for the fall, but all indications are there will be no high school sports in Southern California until at least January.

The most likely scenario being discussed is to have three sports seasons, with the fall season running from January to mid-March, the winter season from February to mid-April and the spring from April to June. It would result in shortened seasons for all sports, with each season likely having a 12-week schedule to get in nonleague, league, CIF-SS playoffs and CIF State and regional playoff games.

So just make the decision already.

Each day that passes is another day wasted for athletic directors who have to rework schedules for all levels of their teams, and then hope there are enough officials to cover three seasons of sports in six months. ADs who spent weeks and months developing their schedules for 2020-21 are dreading having to redo all of that work, and they will likely be doing it without overtime pay.

But there will be some bit of drama come July 20 when the announcement is made.

Earlier this month, CIF-SS commissioner Rob Wigod explained how information will be disseminated on announcement day.

“The CIF State office will announce the dates for CIF Regional and CIF State playoffs for each sport,” Wigod wrote. “Once those days are identified, the Southern Section will release our specific sports calendars, which will includes dates of first interscholastic competition, sit-out-period dates for each sport, end-of-regular-season dates, section playoff dates and dates for our Southern Section championship finals.”

Reportedly, a tug-of-war is going on with athletic directors and coaches who are concerned that if there is a 12-week shortened season for all sports, that a month for CIF-SS and state playoffs will mean fewer nonleague and league games for teams. Many coaches say they want to play as many guaranteed games as possible, even if that means reducing playoff competition.

So CIF has a big decision to make. How much is it willing to reduce its state and section playoff schedule to serve the majority of high school athletes, because roughly half of its over 500 Southern Section schools won’t make the playoffs. And as each playoff round goes by, that number shrinks, and shrinks fast.

Some teams are still conducting summer conditioning workouts in hopes there will be a season in the fall. The Covina-Valley Unified School District is allowing its high schools, South Hills, Northview and Covina, to begin summer conditioning this week.

But most Southern Section schools already have shut it down, saying they will wait for the July 20 decision before deciding whether they will resume.

So we wait for CIF’s announcement, but the decisions have likely already been made, and not one coach or athletic director I’ve spoken with recently expects football or any sports to be played in the fall.

And let’s make one final thing clear: If the sports calendar is pushed back until January, there is still no guarantee that sports will start then, or even if they resume, they will finish.

It’s a kick the can down the road scenario in hopes the state and country will eventually be in better shape with the coronavirus pandemic.

But if you were optimistic in March that by July we would have lowered the curve and controlled the pandemic, you’re probably more pessimistic about the situation being any better in January.

The reality is, no matter what CIF announces next week, nobody knows with certainty how the 2020-21 season will play out, or whether it will be played at all.

The virus is just too unpredictable, and its impact makes everything else unpredictable too. So we will do what we’ve done since March, which is continue to ride it out and see where it goes and hope for the best.