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Crackdown: CIF warns programs going rogue amid pandemic
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Crackdown

Crackdown: CIF warns programs going rogue amid pandemic

CIF State says schools may be fined or expelled from organization for holding contests that violate guidance

Two weekends ago, word began to spread that two football teams from Southern California private high schools met for a bona fide football game.

Capistrano Valley Christian and Santa Ana Calvary Chapel did, in fact, play, according to Steve Fryer of the Orange County Register.

The game, featuring two teams in full school uniforms, is believed to be the first such contest in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic and did violate state health guidelines regarding gatherings and competitions. 

The California Department of Public Health suspended all team competitions of youth or education-based sports through Monday at the earliest. It also placed football, both education-based and at the club level, in the orange tier of the return-to-play guidelines. All of Southern California is in the purple or 'widespread' tier.

CIF Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod said last week that four teams were reported to have overstepped the guidance and played inter-squad games.

The CIF state office sent a stark warning for other programs with plans on going rogue and playing outside the state's health guidance. 

"Any school determined to have participated in or to be conducting interscholastic athletics events in violation of the state's orders or CIF rules may be subject to CIF Article 22 sanctions, including, but not limited to, fines, suspension or dismissal from membership," a statement from the CIF's state office released read. 

The CIF office said intentional violations of the state guidelines "will not be permitted."

"The CIF and its sections are bound by the orders, regulations and guidance of the Governor's office, CDPH and the California Department of Education," a CIF release added. "The CIF and its sections expect all of its member leagues, school districts and schools to comply with the guidance from the Governor's office, CDPH and CDE."

It was announced last week that there would be no punishment for the schools that participated in games, though the CIF warning still stands.

The issue is directed more toward private schools, which operate outside of public school districts. There's also been a rise in club tackle football leagues with some California teams playing games at private locations or going to neighboring states to play. 

Wigod said Tuesday that club teams are bound by the same rules as high school or youth teams.

"It's one of the major misunderstandings that's out there," Wigod said. "People believe that there are separate guidelines related to youth or club sports and education-based athletics. It's absolutely not true -- the same guidelines that we are following are the guidelines that all organizations should be following.

"I think the most frustrating thing, for us and member schools that see this happening, is that nothing is being done about people who are violating not only the guidelines for youth sports but also the stay-at-home orders that have been in effect the past few weeks." 

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