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Coronavirus forces IHSA to cancel all spring high school sports tournaments

The IHSA board has canceled state tournaments for all spring sports and activities and put summer contact days on hiatus.

Crystal Lake South celebrates after winning the IHSA 4A Baseball State Championship, June 10, 2017.
Crystal Lake South celebrates after winning the IHSA 4A Baseball State Championship, June 10, 2017.
Allen Cunningham/For the Sun-Times

The Illinois High School Association has officially canceled the state tournaments for all spring sports and activities because of the coronavirus.

The move seemed inevitable after Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced on Friday that he was closing the state’s schools for in-person instruction through the end of the academic year.

“There is a part of me that is just like, come on, let me play whatever happens,” Mount Carmel baseball player Tony Livermore said. “But I do understand it is for the better good of the population. It’s just hard.”

The IHSA board met via video conference on Tuesday and arrived at the decision.

“We support the decision by Governor Pritzker and the Illinois State Board of Education, and given the logistics, we simply felt we could not conduct state tournaments that meet the expectations of our member schools this spring, ” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “As disappointing as it may be for students, it is the right decision for their health and safety, as well as for the health and safety of the general public, as we cope with this unprecedented pandemic.”

Livermore, a standout player on Mount Carmel’s Class 7A state-championship football team, says winning one state title makes the cancellation of the baseball tournament hurt even more.

“It actually makes it a lot worse,” Livermore said. “I tasted that in football and I was looking forward to getting the opportunity in baseball.”

IHSA spring state tournaments were canceled in baseball, bass fishing, boys gymnastics, boys and girls lacrosse, boys tennis, boys and girls track and field, boys volleyball, boys and girls water polo, softball, girls soccer and badminton.

Summer contact days for high school coaches in all sports are on hiatus, according to the IHSA. That could doom the Riverside-Brookfield summer basketball shootout and football 7-on-7 events, which are crucial events in the recruiting world.

The IHSA said it is open to allowing competition if and when health officials deem it safe. If the state government allows sports to resume this summer, the IHSA will issue new summer contact guidelines and will consider allowing spring sports teams to play a limited number of games.

“Once it is determined safe to return, we will provide a detailed outline to our schools on the plan for summer contact days and possibly some kind of spring athletic events,” Anderson said. “Including if the number of days and dates that coaches can meet with athletes has been altered. At this point, though, all that is dependent upon state government and medical leaders giving the go-ahead for such.”

Livermore, a shortstop, has committed to Northwestern. He has been spending a lot of time over the last month trying to find places to work out.

“A lot of the places I’ve been hitting are closing down, so it feels like I’m driving around the whole city looking for somewhere,” Livermore said. “It’s crazy but you have to get that time in.”

As of now, Livermore is scheduled to start summer workouts at Northwestern on June 25.

“There hasn’t been any change to that yet but we will see,” Livermore said. “I know a couple of Big Ten schools have canceled summer programs already.”