Looks like the Southern Section is washing its hands of an “illegal” football game and leaving any kind of punishment up to the California Interscholastic Federation.

Last weekend, at least two private high schools — and possibly two others, although I have only seen reported Capistrano Valley Christian and Calvary Chapel-Santa Ana — played a football game against each other. Capistrano Valley Christian head coach Eric Preszler claimed in a tweet his team is “1-0” following a 2-0 win, which came on a last-minute safety. It is also the official score of a forfeited football game.

Calvary Chapel head coach Pat McInally told the Orange County Register, however, the game was nothing more than a “glorified scrimmage.”

Either way, the game was not permitted by the CIF, which is an extension of the state of California. Current state rules regarding youth sports indicate that no competition is to begin before Jan. 25 and football games are not allowed until virus infection rates can move counties into the orange tier.

With the Southern Section bowing out, it appears if there will be any repercussions, it will have to come from the governing body of high school sports in the state. Eric Sondheimer, Los Angeles Times high school sports reporter and columnist, posted on Twitter a statement from Southern Section commissioner Rob Wigod, which said, in part, “We have completed gathering the facts related to this situation, which included direct conversations with the principals and/or athletic directors at both schools. I believe they completely understand the relevant bylaws that are involved and I am confident that this will not happen again. … We now consider this a closed matter.”

Oh boy. Pretty sure this will not go over well with many of the hundreds of high school football teams — including coaches, players and parents — who have followed the rules, who have patiently waited for the green light and who have the same frustrations as those parents whose kids got to play a game.

When talking Tuesday to San Mateo head football coach Jeff Scheller about the situation, he wondered if those coaches knowingly ignored the rules or if the rules were being interpreted differently.

All I can say to that is: if those coaches didn’t know what they were doing amounted to civil disobedience, I question their intelligence. I would venture most high school coaches in the state understand the rules and regulations in place regarding education-based sports. To say otherwise is insulting to high school coaches and those associated with high school-based athletics.

Taking a wider view, it’s just bad optics because there will be some who will draw the line between lack of punishment and the fact the teams involved are private schools. Many already believe that private schools are afforded special treatment when it comes to high school athletics and this will do nothing to allay those sentiments.

The Serra football team was banned from the postseason for one year, the 2015 season, after the Padres DIDN’T play a consolation final game against Milpitas during the 2014 Central Coast Section playoffs. The Padres were placed on probation and fined roughly $6,000 — the cost the CCS said it lost from concession sales. How can the CIF allow teams to get away with playing when the current rules say you can’t?

I’m not saying give these schools and programs the death penalty, but they certainly shouldn’t be allowed to walk away with nothing more than a, “Tsk, tsk — don’t do that again” letter. High school sports are an extension of the classroom, which makes coaches, by extension, teachers who are supposed to be developing students into responsible adults. What does it say when a coach, a person in a position of authority, willingly violates the rules? You can’t just decide to make up your own rules because you don’t like the current rules in place.

The Southern Section rendered its verdict. The ball is your court, CIF. What are you going to do?

Nathan Mollat can be reached by email: Nathan@smdailyjournal.com or by phone: 344-5200 ext. 117.

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