High school football in January?
An 80-percent schedule for all sports?
Will school campuses even reopen?
Some answers are starting to trickle in.
Matt Maeda, longtime athletic director at San Gorgonio, remains positive that there will be sports in the fall. Just when, however, is another matter.
“You’ve got to figure that state playoffs will be canceled,” he said, “and that Dec. 19 is the final date for the championships. You count backward from there to come up with a calendar.”
Assume, he said, that high school athletics are cleared to start working out after Labor Day (Sept. 7).
“Four weeks later,” said Maeda, “we’d play our first game.”
The state’s California Interscholastic Federation, which helps govern 10 various sections throughout the state, headlined a meeting last week.
Its findings were that a decision will be made by July 20 if high school sports will begin, or not, as scheduled in the fall.
Maeda seemed agreeable to the notion that various districts are looking at neighboring districts to see when they might launch their way back into practice mode.
“It was like that when we had the closures [in March],” he said, referring to L.A. County, followed by Riverside and San Bernardino closing its schools ⎯ and its athletic programs.
Last week, there were three days of meetings held by the headliners from all 10 sections, plus the CIF state officials. Guidelines were set. Deadlines were placed into effect.
High school sports throughout California had been shut down since mid-March, which is when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the issue.
On hold are various local high school campuses, namely Aquinas, San Gorgonio and Redlands Citrus Valley ⎯ each under different leadership.
Any decisions to reopen schools, Maeda said, remain in the hands of each local school board or superintendent. Private schools, such as Arrowhead Christian Academy or Aquinas, have individual leadership.
Redland’s Unified superintendent is Mauricio Arellano.
Ted Alejandre is the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools.
Interim Superintendent Harold Vollkommer oversees San Bernardino Unified.
All three men are loaded with staff, including athletic directors at each campus, helping raise awareness on a variety of issues.
Area athletic directors include Maeda and Citrus Valley’s Boyd Lium.
Jim Brennan is president at Aquinas High School. Chris Barrows is principal. Chris Ybarra is the athletic director.
Curiously, Citrus Valley and Aquinas were set up for an Aug. 28 duel at the Falcons’ stadium.
A week earlier, which is when Aquinas is scheduled to open its season at Simi Valley Grace Brethren, San Gorgonio would host Rancho Cucamonga Los Osos.
All of which is on hold, at least for now.
Maeda said he was set to call a meeting of athletic directors in the Citrus Belt area ⎯ meaning San Bernardino and Riverside county schools ⎯ by next week.
“I’d like to get a feel for their districts. I think we’re several weeks away [from opening].”
Rob Wigod, the CIF-Southern Section commissioner, wasn’t anywhere close to being in position to making a decision on a return … “no later than July 20,” he said, referring to the state release.
There was plenty of discussion rendering various possible scenarios.
Among them was flip-flopping spring baseball with fall football, a notion that Maeda said seemed not credible.
“Rob has not said that to me,” said Maeda, “and I think he would’ve if something like that might happen.”
School districts, and not CIF athletic leadership, will determine when sports activities may resume, said Wigod. Maeda said CIF officials pay heed to recommendations from the various sections and state leadership.
“The direction will come from the governor [Gavin Newsom] and then the state superintendent.”
Maeda has no control.
Still, he’s like most athletic directors.
“I’ve got to start ordering my busses,” he said, “and start being prepared [for the fall sports calendar].”
It’s a big task.
CIF recommendations will have a firm impact when its July 20 deadline hits on whether fall sports should begin as scheduled, pushed back into the academic year, or even canceled.
Where CIF officials have control over athletics is during the post-season ⎯ both section, regional and state playoff systems.
Practices for fall sports are scheduled begin in early August, their respective seasons ⎯ girls tennis, volleyball and golf, boys water polo, cross country and football ⎯ hanging on that July 20 date.
“We are totally committed,” said Wigod, “to having fall, winter and spring sports during the 2020-21 school year.”
All of whom have their eyes and ears open to the CIF administration.
Wigod said, “I’m sure they will follow the recommendations of state and local health authorities in arriving at the decisions that are in the best interests of their students and school communities.”
Maeda said he expects that coaches and staffs will likely get some kind of training regarding COVID-19 ⎯ practice ideas, game situations, etc.
“Not every district has the kind of medical expertise that state CIF has,” he said.
In that CIF press release, it raised the notion that state officials are prepared to offer alternative calendars if the July 20 outcome falls through “due to ongoing public health and safety concerns.”
Maeda said some of those alternatives might be a six-game football schedule, with reduced competitions in other sports likely.
“People don’t want to make mistakes,” said Maeda, who Zoomed in on a NIAAA Round Table discussion with state athletic leaders from Arizona, Ohio, Oklahoma, Illinois and Texas.
“I think Arizona opened on June 1,” he said. “One school district opened and they had a couple cases of COVID-19.”