SportStars Magazine

Bryson: What If CIF Needs A Plan B For 2020-21?

CIF calendar, Fall Sports, Football

SportStars Magazine Editor Chace Bryson Shares A Few Ideas For Some CIF Calendar Tweaks If Infection Numbers Don’t Look Much Better Come Halloween •

This column first appeared in the August 2020 issue of SportStars Magazine.

So it’s time to wait a little longer for fall sports, it seems. 

It’s typically exactly this time of year when SportStars HQ hunkers down to plan the annual Football Preview. It tends to lead into one of the busiest two-week stretches of the year for us here. 

Now that two-week stretch will happen in December? That’ll be weird. If we can actually get to that point. As I wrote in the magazine’s initial story on the CIF calendar delay, it’s great that the state and its sections made a sweeping decision that gave schools time and student-athletes a beacon of hope. 

However, I wonder if the CIF starts reading the tea leaves in October and decides changes may be necessary. And if that’s the case, I’m still a bit mystified about how the state decided on when certain sports would be played under the modified CIF calendar.

For one, I feel pretty confident golf could be played now. If the general public can play golf (I created some of my own fairway divots in mid-July), then socially distanced dual meets and tournaments seem doable. Swimming and diving could likely happen now as well. Right there that’s two sports removed from an incredibly crowded spring under the two-season model. 

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CIF calendar, Fall Sports, Golf

Golf can safely be played right now by the general public, which should make it one of the first sports to return as opposed to some others. (Phillip Walton photo)

Before going any further, I understand the difficulty and conflict that comes with providing athletic opportunities when schools can’t provide actual classroom opportunities. But at the same time — provided it’s safe — how great would it be to provide those athletes an outlet following the numbing monotony of distance learning?

For argument’s sake, let’s say that out of an abundance of caution, we stick to the full two-season CIF calendar. Why not push the highest risk sports the furthest out? If risk aversion is the top priority, close-contact sports such as football and water polo should have probably been placed in the spring season from the outset. It would give both sports the best possible chance of occurring in the safest possible environment. 

Meanwhile, relatively socially-distanced outdoor sports like soccer, track, tennis, swimming and golf (since we can’t play those last two in the ACTUAL fall) could all be played in the December-March timeframe. Some of these sports will fight weather issues, but it wouldn’t be impossible. And yes, putting volleyball and basketball in the same March-June timeframe would definitely create facilities challenges for some schools. However, this sports year was always going to be screwy and difficult to manage no matter how it happened. Why not embrace the chaos? The goal should be to give each sport its best chance at actually being played?  

This column is not intended as a condemnation of the CIF’s initial plan. I applaud it for trying, and for at least knowing a traditional fall CIF calendar wouldn’t be feasible. This was just a thinking-out-loud exercise for what the CIF may have to consider in a Plan B scenario. 

Because we really want to be covering high school sports again in December. We honestly don’t care which ones.

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