It was announced this week that California voters will make their opinion known this November about a proposal to split the state into three separate states. While the prospects of this happening require Congressional approval and seems extremely unlikely and it’s doubtful that anyone in the California Interscholastic Federation has spent much time worrying about it happening, here’s a few thoughts on how splitting the state into three would impact high school sports:
1. With the current makeup of the state’s 10 CIF sections, the only two that would be split up according to the plan’s maps would be the CIF Southern Section and CIF Central Coast Section. In the Southern Section, Orange County and the Inland Empire would become part of new South California. The rest of the section including L.A. County and northward all the way through to Santa Maria/Lompoc would be in the new California. Plus, schools in Kern County that are currently in the CIFSS in the Antelope Valley would now be in South California and no longer in the same state as schools in L.A. County. In the CCS, schools from Monterey County would no longer be in the same state as schools from Santa Cruz County northward.
2. Splitting Orange County away from L.A. County would also take national football powerhouse St. John Bosco out of the Trinity League (which is now Bosco in the same league as OC private schools Mater Dei, Santa Margarita, JSerra, Servite and Orange Lutheran). The top football teams in the new three proposed states if they existed last season (based on final rankings) would have been St. John Bosco for California, De La Salle of Concord for North California and Mater Dei for South California.
3. Schools and sections in what would be North California have never been that supportive of the Open Division concept of high school playoffs and competitive equity playoff division placements. You could therefore see North California going back to more traditional playoff formats while the other two states — California and South California — went even more for Open Divisions and competitive equity.
4. Politically, despite folks from rural counties in the north who support a separate State of Jefferson, the new North California and the new California would still be strongly Democratic or liberal or progressive (take your pick of adjectives) while the new South California would probably be more of a swing state like Nevada. That means that proposals like the one just defeated that would ban tackling in youth football could be more likely to pass in the two more Democratic states.
5. Some the best CIF state championship events, like for track and wrestling, would be ruined with three separate states instead of one. The process of bringing together the entire state for an event with no divisions and phenomenal competition spread across two days could be tried in three separate events but it wouldn’t be the same. On the other hand, with smaller numbers of schools in three separate states, that could make it easier to conduct state playoffs in other sports in those states, such as softball, baseball and soccer.
6. Our athletic records and historical knowledge of high school sports would stay the same for the three new states no matter what happens so it’s not like we’d toss all of it away. We’d just have to decide whether to create three separate state websites or just break up the site we have.