Chicago Public Schools will likely not play basketball this winter. The CPS sent a memo to schools on Thursday announcing that girls and boys high school and elementary school basketball is postponed until further notice and possibly moved to the spring or summer of 2021.
“While the Illinois High School Association has not removed high school basketball from its winter sports calendar, [Gov. J.B. Pritzker] and [the Illinois Department of Public Health] have determined that basketball presents a greater risk of COVID-19 transmission and is not safe to play this winter,” the email from CPS said.
“Our district has a rich basketball tradition, and we know that this is not the outcome so many of our students, parents and coaches wanted to see, but Gov. Pritzker, IDPH, and the Illinois State Board of Education have made it clear basketball should not be played this winter as it presents a significant risk to participants and members of the school community. We are following their guidance and committed to supporting all sports that can proceed safely this winter.”
Earlier on Thursday, Pritzker said that basketball would be delayed until spring. So if CPS continues to follow his lead there won’t be any Public League basketball this winter.
“We aren’t saying these sports won’t be played,” Pritzker said. “We are delaying the play of these sports. We are saying do training, do conditioning. Even the high-risk sports there are things they can do. It’s not like we are shutting the sports down. But these are all being moved into the spring with the hope that we will be seeing vaccines and treatments that will be effective.”
Simeon coach Robert Smith wasn’t surprised by the news.
“I kind of figured we wouldn’t start until January at least,” Smith said. “Whatever they say is fine with me. It’s about the safety of the kids. That’s their choice. I just work for CPS. I have to do what they tell me to do.”
The IHSA announced on Wednesday that it was going ahead with the basketball season, which leaves school districts to decide if they will side with the IHSA and play in November or wait until the governor and the IDPH give the go-ahead to play sometime in the spring.
That means it is possible that private schools in Chicago and suburban schools will play this winter while the CPS teams sit out.
“Will kids transfer and move to go other places? Probably so,” Smith said. “We don’t know. Kids want to play. They are kids so they don’t look at the severity of how bad things could be.”
Clark basketball player Mikell Jones, a junior, said that a winter without Public League basketball sounded crazy, but that he understands the reasons.
“I thought we would just start the season in November but I understand that safety comes first,” Jones said. “We need to wait until everything is clear and good and no one is testing positive.”
The CPS also set April 19 as a tentative start date for wrestling and said cheerleading, dance, girls and boys bowling and boys swimming and diving will take place this winter.