IHSA still plans to play every sport in 2020-21 school year

The Illinois High School Association held its regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday. The organization announced that the start date for winter sports is still to be determined, but did provide a timeline for when more specific information may become available.

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Cary-Grove’s Beau Frericks (2) takes the ball to the basket past Huntley’s Uchenna Egekeze (32).

Cary-Grove’s Beau Frericks (2) takes the ball to the basket past Huntley’s Uchenna Egekeze (32).

Kirsten Stickney/For the Sun-Times

The Illinois High School Association held its regularly scheduled board meeting on Monday. The organization announced that the start date for winter sports is still to be determined, but did provide a timeline for when more specific information may become available.

The IHSA said it expects to meet with representatives from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health sometime before Jan. 1 and will call a special board meeting afterwards to “finalize schedules.”

“The board reiterated on Monday that they plan to do everything in their power to provide a season for every IHSA sport in 2020-21,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “There have been no cancellations of any sports, or discussions about canceling any sports, thus far. The board appreciates the patience and flexibility of the IHSA membership and remains optimistic, especially as vaccines begin to be administered, that we will return to conducting IHSA sports early in 2021.”

Pritzker said in October that medium- and high-risk sports like basketball and football wouldn’t be allowed until spring.The IHSA attempted to plow forward and play basketball as scheduled in late November. But insurance companies wouldn’t insure the schools, forcing superintendents and school boards to opt out of the season, which the IHSA eventually delayed.

Earlier this month the IHSA said it is prepared to restart the low-risk winter sports (boys and girls bowling, boys swimming and girls gymnastics, competitive cheerleading and dance) quickly whenever it becomes possible.

The IHSA has also moved girls badminton, a low-risk sport, from the spring season to the winter season. That will help free up gym space for the medium- and higher-risk sports that will definitely have to wait to play until spring.

“Given its status as a low-risk sport, we believe we can safely conduct badminton in the winter as soon as the current mitigations are lifted,” Anderson said. “The feedback that we have heard from our schools is that this is an optimal time to conduct badminton as they look at balancing sports and facilities throughout the remainder of the school year.”

Also, contact days will be allowed for out-of-season sports as soon as the state lifts Tier 3 mitigations.

“The board felt that it was important for the physical and mental health of our student-athletes to resume contact days for all out-of-season sports as soon as IDPH deems it safe,” Anderson said. “Winter sports are not included, as we anticipate all low-risk winter sports will be able to begin their seasons at the same time. Basketball remains the outlier in the equation. We hope to be able to conduct basketball during the winter season, but if we cannot, basketball will be provided the same contact day opportunity as we determine where the basketball season fits best in the remainder of the school year.”

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