The Illinois High School Association’s regularly scheduled January board meeting on Wednesday did not provide much new hope that high school sports will restart during this school year.
The board also did not reveal a new schedule for starting up if and when Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health allows sports to restart.
According to an email sent to school administrators the IHSA board “did not think it was prudent to set the schedule for the remainder of the year, although they realize time is drawing short. They hope to do so on January 27.”
The last sports schedule the IHSA announced had its winter season, which features basketball, ending on Feb. 13 and the spring season, which contains football, starting Feb. 15.
The board released a joint statement:
“We realize there is a desire for finality on a sports schedule for 2020-21, however, we did not believe it would be prudent to lock ourselves into a schedule at a time when IHSA schools are unable to conduct any sports. Per Governor Pritzker, we have hope that low-risk sports may be permitted in certain regions of the state as early as this Friday (January 15). With that in mind, February seems like a realistic timeline to have sports resume statewide. We expect that the events of the next two weeks will go a long way toward informing our opinion on which scheduling option we decide to proceed with. We recognize that if no sports have resumed by February, season lengths could be impacted in certain sports, and that we may need to take a longer look at the likelihood of true seasons being conducted in high-risk sports this year. Our overall goal remains unchanged, as we hope to conduct all IHSA sports during the remainder of the school year calendar. Please know that we see and read many of the comments and messages from student-athletes, coaches, and parents, and that we are doing everything we can to try and bring IHSA sports back within the current parameters we are working in.”
The IHSA board approved the resumption of contact days in all sports that are not in season as soon as IDPH allows.
“The IHSA acknowledges the immense mental, emotional, and physical strain that a lack of contact with school programs is causing Illinois high school student-athletes,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “It is our intention that these contact days provide sport-specific training under the leadership of high school coaches. This is an effort to provide a viable sports option to high school athletes given the growing number of student-athletes opting for higher risk opportunities within the state and across state lines.”
Golf, girls tennis, cross country and girls swimming were all conducted in the fall before Gov. Pritzker paused all sports on Nov. 20.
“We remain collaborative in our efforts with IDPH and the Governor’s office,” Anderson said. “We are trying to do our part to fight the pandemic, while simultaneously seeking safe participation opportunities for our student-athletes.”