Doug Krikorian / Viewpoint

CIF Southern Section Commissioner Rob Wigod Hoping Gavin Newsom And His Health Department Toadies Come To Their Senses For Projected High School Sports Restart On March 19

Mr. Krikorian, an award winning journalist and author of two books, earned multiple awards in his 22 years of writing for the Long Beach Press-Telegram and 22 years for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner. He is happily retired.

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No one in's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Feb. 3, 2021, 4:30 p.m.) -- While in many other states around the country, there are high school students playing basketball and preparing for baseball and softball and competing in other sporting activities, those in California have been prevented from engaging in such endeavors since last March because the governor, Gavin Newsom, and his health department toadies have deemed the Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic too dangerous for such pursuits.

Indeed, throughout most of the past ungodly 10 months, Mr. Newsom has instituted widespread lockdowns that have resulted in the closure of thousands of businesses -- most spectacularly in the restaurant industry -- and thousands of K-12 schools that has resulted in thousands of K-12 students enduring the lunacy of a virtual on-line education.

Chaos and disorder now reign foremost in school districts throughout Newsom's domain -- it's conservatively estimated that 60 to 70 percent of these stay-at-home students aren't even seriously participating in it -- and many are emotionally distraught about their current station (suicides among teenagers in this state have risen ominously in recent months).

Indeed, it's bad enough the elementary kiddies are being deprived of vital educational fundamentals and normal socialization, but one feels particularly empathetic for all those high school seniors who are being deprived of what should be one of the most memorable years of their lives.

At least it was for me after navigating 11 years of being thrown into different classes with different classmates with no end in sight to this institutionalized regimen that finally came to a blessed climax in year No. 12 upon high school graduation and with a future that I myself finally would be able to determine.

Still, I have maudlin reminiscences about my final high school year about playing baseball and about my first girlfriend and about drinking Oly (Olympia beer) with buddies and about finally reaching the top of the grade school with older kids no longer above me to assert their meddlesome authority.

Of course, there are thousands, if not millions of parents in this state enraged at Gavin Newsom -- enraged enough for a serious recall movement afoot -- for his shutdown policies.

I wondered just how infuriated this segment of society is, and visited the respected commissioner of the CIF Southern Section, Mr. Rob Wigod, whose organization oversees the inactive athletic teams of 563 schools around Southern California with an enrollment of more than 800,000 students.

Rob Wigod at his desk at CIF Southern Section office

It turns out Mr. Wigod himself has been besieged in recent months.

"I've been sent nasty text messages and e-mails," he says with a wry smile. "I've been yelled at over the phone. Not a day goes by without these things happening. It's just so frustrating."

He is seated behind his office desk at the CIF's headquarters in Cerritos, and he shakes his head softly.

"So many of these people actually believe the CIF Southern Section is keeping its student athletes from playing sports when nothing could be further than the truth," he says. "The California Department of Health is responsible for it. I want us to go back and play. Of course I do."

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As you might know, Gavin Newsom's health department has come up with this schematic color scheme pertaining to Coronavirus activity, a scheme befitting its ghastly bureaucratic idiocies -- with purple being very bad followed by red, orange and yellow.

And all this time I thought Prince's "Purple Rain" film and accompanying album were very good.

"We're still designated as being in the purple range," said Mr. Wigod.

I -- like everyone else in California concerned about the welfare of our school kids -- never realized there had been a major Coronavirus eruption in this state among school age children.

And, as far as I can determine, there still hasn't been one, and even those teenagers who have tested positive for the disease have for the most part not had a harrowing experience with it.

Rob Wigod is keeping his fingers solemnly crossed that on the projected re-start date of March 19 that Gavin Newsom and his public servants will come to their senses -- certainly no guarantee! -- and allow the CIF Southern Section schools to resume sports like baseball, softball, swimming, golf, tennis, track and others.

"I think if we can get to the red tier, we'll be able to resume some competitions," he says with hope in his voice.

You must understand Rob Wigod, who during his 11-year incumbency with CIF Southern Section has turned it into a thriving enterprise with lucrative TV contracts with Fox and with dramatic entertainment-enhancing football playoff changes, has special feelings about those high school athletes being idly sidelined.

He was an athlete himself at Wilson High School, a two-year starter in football and baseball and an important member of the Bruins' 1976 Moore League gridiron champions.

"Obviously, my senior year at Wilson was really memorable for me," he says. "Winning that football title was something I'll never forget. I feel so bad for these many student-athletes not being allowed to play."

Rob Wigod went on to obtain a Bachelor Of Arts degree from Long Beach State, spent 14 years at Lakewood High where he taught history and civil law, coached on the football and baseball teams and became Boys Athletic Director.

He then went Los Alamitos High for two years where he not only became the Boys Athletic Director, but also the head baseball coach. His teams won two Sunset League titles, made a CIF playoff appearance and he twice won Coach of the Year honors.

He joined the CIF as an assistant commissioner in August of 2000, and 11 years later succeeded the retiring James Staunton as Commissioner of Athletics.

He savors the job, but admits these recent times have been difficult as he's had to furlough seven employees and has had to guide his organization through a $2.5 million shortfall from an annual budget of $5 million.

He can proudly recite the CIF Southern Section's 109-year legacy -- from its Hall of Fame baseball players -- Walter Johnson, Bob Lemon, Ralph Kiner, George Brett, Eddie Mathews, Tony Gwynn, Gary Carter, Jackie Robinson, to Duke Snider and others -- to its Hall of Fame football players -- Frankie Albert, Glenn Davis, Ron Mix, Ron Yary, Anthony Munoz, Tony Gonzalez, Ronnie Lott and Gary Zimmerman -- to its four Heisman Trophy winners -- Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, John Huarte and Glenn Davis -- to its myriad famed athletes from other sports such as Tiger Woods, Billy Jean King, Jack Kramer, Peter Sampras, Pat McCormick, Tim Shaw, Susie Atwood, George Yardley, Raymond Lewis, John Rambo, Ulis Williams, Earl McCullough, Dee Andrews, Willie McGinest, Ron Fairly, Mike McKeever, Marlin McKeever, Willie Brown, Gene Washington, Parry O'Brien, Lisa Fernandez and countless others.

And, of course, its basketball list is endless, and Rob Wigod has a poster proudly displayed in the front lobby of his office building of six well-known NBA players, DeMar DeRozen, Paul George, James Harden, Kawhi Lonard, Klay Thompson and Russell Westbrook.

Rob Wigod in front of photo-bedecked CIF headquarters in Cerritos

"They all appeared in the NBA All-Star game at the same time," says Mr. Wigod. "There were 24 players on the team -- and six of them played in the CIF Southern Section. That's one-fourth of the players). That's great."

NBA All Stars who played in the CIF Southern Section: (Back Row From Left): DeMar DeRosen, Paul George, James Harden (Front Row From Left:) Kyle Thompson, Kawhi, Leonard , Russell Westbrook

What hasn't been great these turbulent days for Rob Wigod has been the trouble-causing lengthy shutdown of the CIF Southern Section.

The 61-year-old quintessential Long Beach native -- his father and grandfather both were prominent LB doctors and his wife Kelly also was a Wilson graduate -- actually foresees brightness in these darkest of moments.

"If there's one thing I've learned in life is that nothing ever stays the same -- and I'm confident it's only a matter of time before this Pandemic departs the scene," he says. "At least I hope it does..."

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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.

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