I badly want high school sports back, but the grim reality is setting in.

It’s not looking good.

I sit and work in my home office every day, in the room next to my daughter’s.

Sophia is a senior. She would’ve been just finishing her final season of high school water polo. And who knows? Her team might’ve won a league championship and maybe a couple of games in the section playoffs.

But like thousands of teenagers across the state, she sits and waits, the thrill of competition relegated to social-distancing conditioning workouts with her club and high school teams.

We all know the California Interscholastic Federation and its sections have set a date for sports to return. That December date has been circled on the calendar since the CIF made the announcement in July.

But what does that date mean?

The CIF wants to proceed as planned and will do so until told otherwise by state and local health officials. But are those officials — not to mention school boards — really going to flash a green light in the next couple of weeks given that coronavirus case numbers are exploding and reopening plans are shifting in reverse for many counties?

Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, was asked specifically about high school and youth sports in a news conference Tuesday.

His response felt like another official kicking the proverbial can a few more feet down the road. He told colleague Dan Albano of the Southern California Newspaper Group that new guidelines will be coming “soon” for competition in high school and youth sports, adding that decisions could be determined by the state’s COVID-19 tier system for each county.

“We are working closely with CIF and other youth sports leaders, interscholastic sports leaders, to ensure that we are aligned in the guidance,” Ghaly said. “It will provide clarity as to when competition can take place.”

Back in the summer, when the CIF announced that sports would be delayed for four months, some coaches worried that things might be even worse in the winter with the pandemic joining arms with flu season.

But we all remained cautiously optimistic that the virus would somehow magically improve and sports would come back in force when December arrived.

Now that optimism feels like a prayer.

Late last month, Bay Area Preps HQ started a series of stories to assess the temperature in the room, doing Q&A’s with commissioners from some of the region’s top leagues. Having read or edited all of them to this point, I know the commissioners are doing their best to be ready when the time to play comes.

But will it come?

At this point, I can’t help but think of them as airport passengers on standby, waiting, hoping, praying that their names are called, knowing full well that they might not be — that practice might not start in December and games might not be played in January.

“There’s a lot of hurdles we have to get through to have games in January,” Jolene Fugate, the commissioner of the West Catholic Athletic League, told our Shayna Rubin last month. “The biggest hurdle is working with our counties.

“There are so many things with the county that come first. There’s a lot of things on the county’s plate that fall in front of high school athletics, so I understand why it hasn’t been a focal point. The biggest hurdle will be to get information that we can use. They’re working with our task force, we just don’t have guidelines.”