California Interscholastic Federation

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California Interscholastic Federation
Legal statusAssociation
Headquarters4658 Duckhorn Drive
Sacramento, CA 95834
Region served
Official language
Executive Director
Ronald W. Nocetti
AffiliationsNational Federation of State High School Associations

The California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) is the governing body for high school sports in the U.S. state of California. CIF membership includes both public and private high schools. Unlike most other state organizations, it does not have a single, statewide championships for all sports; instead, for some sports, the CIF's 10 Sections each have their own championships.

Six schools near the state border are members of adjacent state's associations. San Pasqual Valley High School is part of the Arizona Interscholastic Association. Coleville High School, Needles High School, North Tahoe High School, South Tahoe High School and Truckee High School are part of the Nevada Interscholastic Activities Association.


As early as 1891, schools around the San Francisco Bay Area began competing against each other in football organized by the Amateur Academic Athletic Association. Other boys sports were added starting 1894, organized by the Academic Athletic League. While teams represented the schools by name, there was no affiliation with the school administration.[1]

The CIF was founded in Los Angeles in 1914 by a group of area school principals. It was founded in order to standardize rules and team structures between schools; it was also intended to prevent abuses such as "school shopping" by athletes and teams fielding players over high school age. Other school principals voluntarily entered into the program, and by 1917, the organization was established statewide.[2]

In 2005, CIF began requiring that all student athletes sign a pledge not to take any steroids or face suspension or expulsion. This action was the first of its kind from a statewide high school athletics association in the United States.[3]


CIF holds state and regional championships in:

CIF also hosts a State Cheerleading Championship in conjunction with the football championship.

Individual CIF sections also conduct championships in other sports, including:

In sports where a school has separate boys' and girls' teams, girls are not allowed on boys' teams, and boys are not allowed on girls' teams. (In sports such as baseball that do not have girls' teams, girls are allowed to play; on the other hand, in sports such as softball that do not have boys' teams, in most cases boys are not allowed to play.)


In the 2016-17 season, the California Interscholastic Federation featured 800,364 participants, with 58% boys and 42% girls.[4]

The sports with most boys are:

  • American football: 97,079
  • Track and field: 56,032
  • Soccer: 52,795
  • Basketball: 46,114
  • Baseball: 43,913
  • Cross country athletics: 31,830
  • Wrestling: 22,383
  • Swimming: 21,467

The sports with most girls are:

  • Soccer: 47,139
  • Track and field: 46,276
  • Volleyball: 44,526
  • Basketball: 34,222
  • Softball: 33,265
  • Swimming: 29,722
  • Cross country athletics: 25,600


CIF offers various awards to its participants:[5]

  • Academic State Champions, given to the teams with high academic achievement
  • Model Coach Award, for coaches who are positive role models
  • Scholar-Athlete of the Year, based on academic and athletic excellence, and character
  • Spirit of Sport, based on sportsmanship, community service, and leadership



The state is broken up into ten administrative sections.[6] These sections are:

Section # Section Region Location Website # of Schools
1 Northern Section Northern Inland, north California (NE corner of state) 73
2 North Coast Section Northern Coastal regions of northern California (Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Sonoma County, Lake County, Solano County, Napa County, Mendocino County, Humboldt County, Del Norte County) 171
3 Sac-Joaquin Section Northern Northern San Joaquin Valley (east from Bay Area to Lake Tahoe) 174
4 San Francisco Section Northern San Francisco Unified School District 13
5 Oakland Section Northern Oakland Unified School District 20
6 Central Coast Section Northern Middle, coast region of state
Monterey County, San Benito County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County 140
7 Central Section Southern Central and southern San Joaquin Valley, San Luis Obispo County, Inyo County, Mono County 104
8 Los Angeles City Section Southern Los Angeles Unified School District (City of Los Angeles and surrounding areas) 140
9 Southern Section Southern Southern California (Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties),
except LAUSD schools and very southern part of the State. 581
10 San Diego Section Southern San Diego and Imperial Counties (southernmost part of California). 98

Each section except for San Francisco and Oakland is further subdivided into leagues. The Northern Section is divided into three conferences which in turn are divided into leagues.[7]

The Southern Section is the largest by both membership and geography, covering just under one-third of the state's total area and almost half of the population base. The Southern section includes private schools in the LAUSD service area, whether inside or outside the city of Los Angeles, and the Central Coast and North Coast sections also include private schools in the cities of San Francisco and Oakland respectively. The three "City Sections" are operated by and were historically limited to the corresponding public school systems. With the advent of charter schools in California, all three City Sections include both traditional public schools and charter schools operating within the historic boundaries of the respective public school systems. The San Francisco Section now includes one private school as well.

The sections also serve as the qualifying entities for regional and state competitions, and may organize championships in sports not contested statewide, such as badminton, baseball, field hockey, gymnastics, lacrosse, skiing and snowboarding, soccer, softball, and water polo.

Federated Council[edit]

The organization's supreme governing body is the Federated Council. This council consists of one representative from each section, a representative from the California Department of Education, representatives from all bodies recognized as Allied Organizations by the CIF, the Council President, the President-Elect, and the immediate past President. Each representative is elected to a term of two years. The Council meets three times per year.[8]

Allied organizations[edit]

The following groups are considered Allied Organization by CIF:[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Unknown. "California State Meet Results - 1915 to present".
  2. ^ "History of the California Interscholastic Federation". Archived from the original on 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2006-05-26.
  3. ^ "CIF Tosses Penalty Flag at Steroids". Los Angeles Times.
  4. ^ 2016-17 High school athletics participation survey Archived 2018-02-25 at the Wayback Machine - National Federation of State High School Associations
  5. ^ "CIF Awards Program". Archived from the original on 2006-06-15. Retrieved 2006-05-26.
  6. ^ "CIF Sections". Archived from the original on 2006-05-04. Retrieved 2006-05-26.
  7. ^ "Northern Section-Leagues Index". Archived from the original on 2014-08-30. Retrieved 2014-09-26.
  8. ^ "CIF Federated Council". Archived from the original on 2006-03-03. Retrieved 2006-05-26.
  9. ^ "Allied Organizations - California Interscholastic Federation".

External links[edit]