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Bailey: Why did CIF Southern Section opt for 10-game football season with no bye weeks?
Dailey Bailey

Bailey: Why did CIF Southern Section opt for 10-game football season with no bye weeks?

I think we can agree on one thing: We all want a safe and complete high school football season. I'll be grateful to have a season, even if it starts in January. 

At the same time, there's a certain aspect of the upcoming high school football season that's really caught my eye as the season grows near. 

Is every Southern Section team really playing 10 football games without a bye? 

When the high school sports seasons were altered over the summer, cramming all sports into two seasons instead of the typical three, there was a lot of information to take in, leaving us with a lot of questions.

But one question I haven't been able to quite figure out: Why did the CIF Southern Section choose to forego a bye week for the football season, forcing all member schools that are playing a 10-game season to play all 10 games in consecutive weeks. 

The CIF-SS high school football season is 64 days. Hundreds of high school teams in the Southern Section will all play 10 games in that span with no weeks off.

In going this route, the Southern Section kept the complete playoff structure in place, with a first round, quarterfinal, semifinal and championship. Then there's also the state playoffs, which have been "streamlined." 

Is asking high school students to play 10 games in 10 weeks in their best interest? Especially in the midst of a pandemic? 

I'm not so sure. A person I've spoken with, someone with detailed knowledge of California high school athletics, said they feel that decision boils down to one thing: Money. 

The CIF-SS keeping a complete playoff format can create some extra revenue with all those first-round playoff games throughout the section. And, let's face it, schools certainly need the cash. But at what cost? I don't think the move was made with just dollar signs in mind, but I think it could've played a factor. 

Playing 10 straight games without a break isn't completely unheard of. Arroyo Grande has done it recently, with 10 straight games then a bye in the final week of the regular season before the playoffs start. Some schools have been forced to start the season with a bye. 

But imagine every school in the largest section in the state doing it at once in January after a year of dealing with a pandemic. It's going to be a major challenge. 

The CIF Central Section decided to keep its bye week and cut a week out of the postseason, basically starting the playoffs in the quarterfinals. So, for instance, Santa Maria High School will have a typical 10-game season with a bye week. If the Saints do make the playoffs, they'll basically start in the quarterfinals. A win there moves them into the semifinals and another win to the Central Section championship game. One final game would be the state championship.

If a Southern Section school, say like Lompoc High, made a similar run it'd be 10 regular season games in 10 weeks, followed by four straight CIF-SS playoff games and one more state game. That's 15 games in 15 weeks. 

Some Southern Section school will certainly play that schedule out and it'll be a grind. 

Another aggravating factor in this was that the CIF-SS schedules don't match up with schools in the Central Section. That meant that Southern Section schools playing Central Section schools had to realign their schedules. That in turn forced area schools to switch the week they're playing schools from another section. Just another hassle. 

Will everything work out for the Southern Section? I hope so, but it's going to be a wild ride. 


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