The coronavirus pandemic prompted California to spike all fall high school sports on Monday, in favor of a new calendar that will compact all games, like football, into a few winter and spring months.
The California Interscholastic Federation, which regulates high school sports in the nation’s largest state, won’t stage any games in any sports until at least December, officials said.
The new calendar would mean football — a staple of fall Friday nights across America’s largest state — would be played in the spring with the last game played no later than April 17, 2021, the CIF announced.
CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod admitted the calendar not ideal. But because so many California schools have said they’re going to start the fall term with just online instruction, this was the only option short of canceling whole seasons.
“The alternative would be to just cancel an entire season or seasons, In other words, since the fall season couldn’t hit in the traditional window of August through November and December, we would have announced the cancellation of the fall season today,” Wigod told reporters Monday.
“I do not believe that anyone preferred that option.”
California had been a model for controlling the coronavirus pandemic before a huge jump in cases in recent weeks.
The World Health Organization has set a target of 5 percent of positive tests and Californians are now coming in at a rate of 7.26 percent in the past seven days, according to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine data.
Wigod said these plans are still best-case scenarios and if the pandemic does not improve, sports could still be canceled.
By December, Wigod said he hopes “local and state authorities have allowed for students to return to campuses.”
Earlier this month, a slew of fall sports, including football, in New Mexico and Washington D.C. were moved to the spring.
Bruce Howard, a spokesman for the National Federation of State High School Associations, said he believes these will be the first sanctioned prep football games ever played in this new time frame.
“To my knowledge, it has always been played in the fall throughout history,” he said.
A top educator in Texas said this month that gridiron action might not be possible this fall, even in the football-crazed Lone Star state.
Texas sports administrators could make an announcement on football by the end of the week.