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IHSA Provides Update on Winter Sports

Written by on October 29, 2020

Photo courtesy IHSA Facebook

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. –  The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met Wednesday afternoon to provide the latest information on the IHSA’s winter sports season.

The Board voted to move wrestling from the winter season to the summer season, which runs from April 19 to June 26, 2021. They also approved the winter sport guidance for all low risk sports, which includes Boys Swimming & Diving, Cheerleading, Dance, Boys & Girls Bowling, and Girls Gymnastics.

Boys and Girls Basketball to begin practices on November 16. Contests can begin on November 30th within an Illinois COVID region or within a conference. Masks will be worn by all players, coaches, and officials. In addition, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker announced Tuesday that the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) changed the risk level for basketball from medium risk to high risk.

“The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors made the decision today to continue with the IHSA basketball season as scheduled in 2020-21. In August, the Board slated basketball to take place from November to February based on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) assigning a medium risk level to the sport. The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely,” said the IHSA Board of Directors.

The Board remains considerate of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and understands the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for the good of all citizens. While the Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally, they have been looking to bordering states who have sponsored both medium risk and high risk sports in the fall that have noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread.

The board added that increased mental health issues among our students and a shrinking calendar that limits their ability to move sport seasons this school year were some of the reasons the IHSA decided to move forward with basketball as scheduled. In addition, the board hold true to the fact that playing under IHSA rules and SMAC mitigation is the safest way to conduct athletics at this juncture.”

“Illinois is a large and diverse state, and the IHSA membership is reflective of that. We understand that this decision will impact each high school and district differently,” said the board. “Some schools who remain in remote learning may not be able to start winter sports on time, and we feel for those in that situation. However, we have also learned that we cannot continue to look down the road to a season that may never come.”

The IHSA winter season is expected to run from November 16, 2020, to February 13, 2021. The IHSA Board will review spectator and group gatherings for all winter sports at a future meeting in November.