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Column: CIF’s television deal isn’t good for San Diego

12/18/2017, 10:10pm PST
By John Maffei

Helix Highlander Elelyon Noa (34), runs with the ball during the third quarter as the Folsom Bulldog

People were warned.

Helix’s state championship football game Friday wasn’t going to be on TV in San Diego.

Still, a lot of people tried to tune in. And a lot of people were disappointed.

The California Interscholastic Federation signed a 10-year deal with Time Warner, which has morphed into Spectrum. The agreement calls for the five top-tier state championship games — played this year in Sacramento — to be shown on Spectrum SportsNet LA, home of the Dodgers, Lakers, Galaxy and Sparks.

The remaining eight state-title games played at home sites are mostly streamed on the Internet.

Doesn’t matter what you call it, though, Spectrum isn’t available in 80 percent of the homes in San Diego.

It’s also not available in most of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. Fans in Southern California have been complaining for three years that they don’t get the Dodgers on TV. So why would you put high school games on that same network?

And Spectrum isn’t available at all in Northern California.

Jerry Schniepp, commissioner of the CIF’s San Diego Section, said he tried to get local stations to pick up the games.

“It’s frustrating,” Schniepp said. “There just doesn’t seem to be much interest, although I know there is because we sold out Southwestern College (9,500 seats with nearly 30,000 in attendance for five section championship games over two days).

“The TV options in San Diego are limited.”

Realistically, none of the networks — CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox — are going to give up prime-time programming on Friday night for high school football.

So that leaves KUSI, Cox Communications’ Channel 4 and Fox Sports San Diego, the Padres’ channel.

KUSI has the same problems as the networks — late-night news. Despite the success of the “Prep Pigskin Report,” which runs after the news on Fridays, KUSI would have to give up its 10 and 11 p.m. news to carry a live game. That’s a lot of lost revenue.

Channel 4, which for years produced and carried all San Diego Section football championship games, has mostly paid programming and do-it-yourself shows.

The decision makers, people like Dennis Morgigno, who valued prep sports and said the high school football championships were second in ratings on Channel 4 only to the Padres, have retired.

“Cox called before the start of football season and there was some interest in carrying games,” Schniepp said. “But we never heard back.”

Fox Sports San Diego carries Clippers and Ducks games in the Padres offseason. So there is some wiggle room for prep programming. But Fox and Spectrum don’t have the greatest relationship.

Roger Blake, executive director of the CIF, has been quizzed about the TV situation in conference calls with the state media. He stands by the decision to sign with Spectrum, saying the 10 sections around the state are free to make deals with local stations to carry the playoffs.

NBCSports Bay Area stepped up and carried all the games in Sacramento. So, yes, someone in charge at a network has a vision.

Someone in San Diego needs to recognize that there is interest in high school sports and do the right thing.

Change of venue

The CIF announced that the top-tier games of the state football championships are heading south. A two-year contract with an option for a third has been signed with Cerritos College in Norwalk.

Falcon Stadium will host the top five state-playoff games on Dec. 7-8, 2018 and Dec. 13-14, 2019. The stadium, which seats 12,000, hosted the Southern Section Division I championship and drew a sold-out crowd.

With the top divisions coming south, teams in the north will now host Divisions 3-A through 6-A.

SoCal hosted the state championships at the StubHub Center in Carson from 2006-14 before a three-year run at Sacramento State.

Record setters

There were several records set this football season. They include:

Season receiving yards: 1,764 by Chris Olave of Mission Hills.

Career receiving yards: 3,954 by Mozes Mooney of Bishop’s.

Career receptions: 276 by Mooney.

Career receiving touchdowns: 66 by Mooney.

Rushing yards in a game: 499 by Dorian Richardson of Rancho Buena Vista.

Touchdowns in a game: 8 by Richardson and Jahmon McClendon of Monte Vista.

Field goals in a career: 37 by Matt Araiza of Rancho Bernardo. Araiza also holds the record for field goals in a season with 18 in 2015.

Trophy count

Steele Canyon was the only San Diego Section team to claim a state championship with Helix, El Centro Southwest and Calexico Vincent Memorial all losing in the finals.

Steele Canyon won six playoff games by a total of 32 points. The Cougars won the last four games by a total of nine points — Granite Hills (28-27), Ramona (33-29), Orange El Modena (38-26) and Half Moon Bay (44-42).

San Diego Section teams are now 11-11 since the state playoff system was revived in 2006.

All-star game

The annual Alex Spanos All-Star Game for senior football players is scheduled for Jan. 20 at San Diego Mesa College.


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