School Sports Plans Revealed

School Sports Plans Revealed

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) announced modifications to the California 2020-2021 athletic sports calendar due to the coronavirus pandemic on July 20.

The much-anticipated schedule was released in a press release on the CIF website. The CIF, the organizing body for interscholastic athletic competitions in California, announced the season will begin with team practices in December and actual competitions beginning in January 2021. Under the new schedule format, the normal three-season schedule (fall, winter, spring) will be consolidated into a two-season sports schedule. Original fall sports will be played in the winter months, while original winter and spring sports will be played in late spring.

The CIF sets the schedule for the state tournaments for each sport. The various championships for fall sports will take place in March or April, while the CIF championships for winter and spring sports will be played in mid-to-late June. Some championships will take place after high school graduations.

The CIF state office made the decision to streamline the CIF regional and state championship tournaments. As a result, the final state championship games for each sport will take place no longer than one week after the section championships have concluded. For example, all football section championships will be played no later than April 10 and all CIF football state championships will be played by April 17. The last day for section basketball championship games is June 12, while the state championship games will take place June 19.

The CIF did not determine the section playoffs schedule or the regular season schedule for each sport. That determination was left up to the sections themselves.
The CIF is made up of 10 different sections spanning the entire state. Alameda High School (AHS), Encinal High School and St. Joseph Notre Dame (SJND) compete in the North Coast Section (NCS), which embodies much of the East Bay except Oakland public schools.

The NCS scheduled fall sports teams (i.e. football, cross country, water polo and volleyball) to begin practices on Dec. 14. Football competitions can begin as early as Jan. 6, 2021. Teams can schedule a scrimmage game as early as Dec. 25 so long as teams have conducted at least 10 days of practice. Last year, Encinal High School (EHS) began its football season on Aug. 23, while Alameda High School (AHS) began on Aug. 24.

The start date for non-football fall sports teams has not been determined.

The winter/spring sports (i.e. baseball, basketball, softball and track & field) has several dates for teams to start practice. Badminton and boys’ and girls’ soccer can start practice no sooner than Feb. 22, 2021. Boys’ and girls’ swimming, soccer, wrestling and tennis can begin practice as early as March 8. Baseball, softball, track & field; and boys’ and girls’ basketball, lacrosse and golf can start practice no sooner than March 15, 2021. The start of the regular season for all winter/spring sports will be determined later.

High school athletics still has a major hurdle to pass before games can be played in 2021. County health departments must approve athletic competitions before it is allowed to take place.

The COVID-19 outbreak has already had a major impact on high school athletics in California. On March 12, the CIF announced all 2020 state basketball championship games would be cancelled due to the virus. Then on April 3 the CIF announced the entire spring sports season would be canceled (“CIF Ends High School Spring Sports Season” April 7).

Alameda Unified School District school will begin the school year on Aug. 27 with distance learning, or online instruction. To view the 2021 NCS schedule, visit