It may not have been the news many high school athletes, coaches or administrators were hoping for, but it wasn’t exactly a surprise either.
After a virtual board meeting Thursday afternoon, the Illinois High School Association board of directors opted to pause the high school winter sports season in the state.
“All IHSA sports and activities will cease by Nov. 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the governor’s mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible.”
The board will revisit the status of winter sports at their update discussion on Dec. 2 and again at their regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 14, if necessary.
As one local administrator suggested, the news was not all bad as a potential start for winter sports looms after the turn of the year.
"Still haven't seen the word cancel yet," said Jeff Parsons, Kewanee Wethersfield boys basketball coach and athletics director in a tweet, trying to be as optimistic as possible.
As of Friday, school teams are limited in what they can do despite the season officially starting on Monday of this week. Games were originally set to start Nov. 30, but many schools and conferences had already put the season on hold via decisions by their boards or superintendents when the IHSA and Gov. JB Pritzker disagreed on the direction of winter sports in the state.
“Taking into account the current state mitigations, the board believes that early to mid-December will be the most reasonable target to review the status of winter IHSA sports and activities,” said Anderson. “The board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches. However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state. Despite the obstacles this unprecedented school year has presented, the board’s vision to provide participation opportunities in all IHSA sports has not wavered.”
The board was steadfast in its desire to remind all athletes and athletic programs that adhering to the mitigations is vital to the hopes of safely playing high school sports in Illinois as soon as possible.
The IHSA issued the following information for teams and athletes regarding these situations:
Conditioning & weight training: Before- and after-school training is paused. Local schools will decide if conditioning and weight training programs that are a part of their academic curriculum will continue or cease.
Open gyms: Paused and cannot be conducted at this time.
Outdoor workouts: Outdoor workouts may be conducted in any sport in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing. Coaches are counted toward the 10. Use of sport-specific equipment is allowable with proper sanitizing practices.
One-on-one skill work: Per Tier 3 resurgence mitigations, and with school approval, one-on-one skill work between a coach and student-athlete is permitted for winter sports only but is limited to one coach and one student-athlete per facility.
Activities: Practices and competitions may only be conducted virtually.
Non-school participation: All sports organizations in the state — whether schools or not — have been directed to abide by the governor’s mitigations. IHSA coaches cannot organize non-school participation in any fashion. IHSA by-law 3.100 will be in effect once winter sport seasons begin following this pause.
Get in the game with our Prep Sports Newsletter
Sent weekly directly to your inbox!