Editor’s note: We invited the Illinois High School Association to write a counterpoint view to our editorial. They agreed to do so, but later declined. This is the IHSA’s response to the lawsuit posted on their website.
The IHSA was founded more than 100 years ago upon the belief that participation in high school sports and activities helps make young people better citizens.
High school sports create everlasting bonds among teammates and coaches, and contribute to the fabric of communities throughout Illinois and the United States. Working in conjunction with partners like the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and the Illinois General Assembly, the IHSA draws input from top leaders in the sports medicine community. We solicit their expertise regularly and apply best practices in all events.
Risk minimization for high school student-athletes in all sports, including football, has been and will continue to be a top priority for the Association. We believe that since the IHSA began sanctioning football competition, the safety procedures and protocols in place for high school football have been on par with, or have exceeded, those that exist around the country, regardless of the level of football. We recognize that in the past decade new concerns have been raised about the game of football. The IHSA, the Illinois State Legislature, local school boards, and the high school coaches who are on the practice fields every day are all working together to address these concerns.
While this lawsuit alleges that it exists to help aid in that matter, simply put, high school football should not be subject to being dismantled or reassembled. Those who oversee safety measures on a day-to-day basis are the people best equipped to address these improvements, not those operating within the courts.
At its core, high school football is not college football, nor is it the NFL, and for the vast majority of these young players this is the highest level at which they will compete. The IHSA bears that in mind as it continues to bring safer standards of play to practice, games and off-season workouts.
A lawsuit’s attempt to lump all levels of football together has far-reaching implications, potential repercussions that threaten the future of all high school sports for the millions of students around the country who annually benefit from their participation experiences.