Pacific League Looks Forward

Image captured by Michael LEVITSKY
Commissioner Rob Wigod addressing the media via livestream following the CIF Southern Section’s cancellation of fall championship contests.

Southern Sections cancels fall championships, games can potentially still be played.

Following last week’s announcement that CIF Southern Section playoffs have been canceled, members from the Pacific League met on Jan. 20 to discuss possible season layouts for all fall sports, now that there are an additional four weeks to work with.

“We are still hoping to play,” said Jordan Lessem, CV’s AP of athletics. “An abbreviated season is better than no season at this point.”

The league, which includes Arcadia, Burbank, Burroughs, Glendale, Hoover, Muir, Pasadena and CV high schools, held discussions on possible start dates for every sport and obstacles, such as a strain on facilities, and even pondered a possible league tournament for some sports.

“It’s something that we will work out,” said Lessem. “Even if we can try a reduced season, as difficult as it would be for us, if we can give [our seniors] four games, it’s better than nothing.”

Despite the continued efforts by the Pacific League, nothing can be set in stone until LA County drops from the California Dept. of Public Health’s “Widespread” tier to the “Substantial” or “Moderate” tiers. This will only be accomplished if numbers of cases and hospitalizations continue to decline in the coming weeks.

Gov. Newsom tweeted on Monday that cases are down almost 38% over the last seven days and hospitalizations are down 20% over the last two weeks across California. The rollout of vaccines and opening of vaccination supersites across the County could offer a glimmer of hope as well; however, only time will tell.

For the current fall sports schedule, only cross-country in “Widespread” tiers is allowed to compete. Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod emphasized that all fall sports must still conclude on their official end dates in order to have the schedule for spring sports start on time.

An incredibly busy and difficult 10 months for the CIF Southern Section office, and the CIF as a whole, ended unceremoniously on Tuesday, Jan. 19 and the decision to cancel section championships was one that many anticipated but no one wanted to hear.

After pushing back and adjusting a projected calendar in which every school could have viable league play, five league games for six-team leagues, and seven games for eight-team leagues, along with several rounds of playoffs, there was no other choice but to cancel.
The decision was made as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations remained at a high rate across California, and especially in Los Angeles County. The CIF Southern Section, California Dept. of Public Health and local health officials determined it would be unsafe to hold section championships that had schools traveling long distances and often cross county lines to play one another.

Despite the cancellation of section championships, CIF Southern Section commissioner Wigod emphasized that the decision did not mean that fall sports are canceled altogether, as they were last spring.

“[Schools] can take away that they have time now remaining in the fall season of sport to schedule as many contests as they possibly can,” he addressed the media. “League contests, non-league contests that have already been postponed or canceled, could now potentially be added to our season up until the end dates of each sport.”

The end dates for all fall sports range between March 20 and April 17; therefore schools now have the flexibility to play real contests until those dates, following the guidelines by local health officials.

In order for play to potentially resume, LA County would have to fall out of the California Dept. of Public Health’s “Widespread” tier.

Financially, the cancellation of section championships is quite a blow to the CIF Southern Section’s yearly revenue total. Championship playoff revenue accounts for nearly half of the Southern Section’s operating budget, according to the commissioner.

As vaccines begin to slowly roll out through the state, players, parents and coaches can hold their breaths and hope the county gives kids a chance to do what they have been waiting nearly a year to do: play.