CIF: Sportsmanship #1 Priority

CIF focusing on getting better sportsmanship from players, and parents


Nationwide, sportsmanship — or the lack thereof — is the focus of high school sports this season.

The behavior of athletes, and at times their parents, is at the core of a shortage of officials in almost every sport.

“Sportsmanship is the No. 1 priority nationally as well as here in our state,” CIF Executive Director Ron Nocetti said last week at the CIF Symposium at Otay Ranch High.

“We can’t just talk about it anymore. We have to take action.”

Nocetti’s daughter Gianna was a top-flight high school water polo player at Rio Americano in Sacramento and is now a freshman at UC Davis.

To help curb the shortage of water polo officials, the UC Davis coaches asked their players to get involved at the high school level.

Nocetti said Gianna’s first game as an official involved two of the better teams in the Davis area. And there was controversy.

A parent insisted the score was wrong and was at the scorer’s table insisting it be changed.

When the parent was asked to leave the area, she refused.

“The school’s administrator got involved,” Nocetti said. “That parent was asked to leave.

“Then, my daughter’s next assignment involved the same team. But since the administration had taken action, had set the tone that unsportsmanlike conduct wouldn’t be tolerated, there were no problems.”

In the San Diego Section last school year there were 276 ejections across all sports over all three seasons.

Not surprisingly, 193 of those ejections involved boys with only 26 girls.

There were 45 coaching ejections while 11 spectators were asked to leave games, up from eight during the 2020-21 school year.

“That’s 11 too many,” said San Diego Commissioner Joe Heinz.

Football led the way with 34 ejections. That was followed by baseball (22), boys soccer (18), girls soccer (15) and boys water polo (14).

El Capitan and La Jolla had the most players ejected with eight each. That was followed by Lincoln (7) with Carlsbad, Cathedral Catholic, Coronado and Scripps Ranch all at six.

Since the 2020-21 season was skewed because of the coronavirus pandemic, the last ejection comparison is 2019-20.

There were 101 boys soccer ejections that season with football at 43, girls soccer at 42 and boys basketball at 34.

“We’re making progress,” Heinz said. “But we’re not there yet.

“Our athletes and coaches deserve the best officials. And there has to be cooperation.

“Athletes and coaches need to show sportsmanship. School administrations need to take charge.”

Statewide, there were 750,000 athletic contests last season.

There were only 10 reports of gross improper behavior.

Nocetti and Heinz would like that number to be closer to zero.

Participation numbers

In the San Diego Section, football again topped the participation numbers during the 2021-22 school year with 7,858.

On the boys side, that was followed by soccer (4,751), track (4,354), baseball (3,678), basketball (3,623), volleyball (2,501), cross country (2,064), wrestling (1,886), lacrosse (1,782) and swimming (1,612)

Soccer was the big sport on the girls side with 4,277 participants.

That was followed by volleyball (3,878), track (3,593), softball (2,596), basketball (2,232), swimming (1,933), tennis (1,903), lacrosse (1,826), cross country (1,544) and water polo (1,534).

State numbers

California has more than 1,200 public high schools and 400-plus private schools with 1.88 million students.

About 40 percent, 760,000, played a sport in 2021-22. With 70,000 coaches. Of those 760,000, 97 percent of athletic careers end in high school.

The NCAA — the governing body of college athletics — has 1,100 colleges with 460,000 athletes.

Football had the most participants statewide in 2021-22 with 86,626.

On the boys side, that was followed by soccer (53,677), track (48,452), basketball (47,901), baseball (44,179), volleyball (24,980), cross country (24,764), wrestling (19,900), swimming (18,902) and tennis (17,558).

Overall, 428,493 boys participated in sports in 2021-22, down from 461,187, the last pre-COVID year.

Soccer had the most participants on the girls side with 47,044.

That was followed by volleyball (45,534), track (38,399), softball (30,338), basketball (30,142), swimming (23,153), tennis (21,742), cross country (19,117), water polo (14,061) and traditional competitive cheer (11,233).

Overall, 325,113 girls participated in 2021-11, down from 354,126 in 2019-20.

Overall, participation for 2021-22 was 753,606, down from 815,313 in 2019-020.

 JOHN MAFFEI OCT. 4, 2022 8:45 PM PT San Diego Union Tribune