The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors will allow more than two contests per week for winter, spring and summer sports, it announced at their virtual meeting on September 14. That nulled a previous decision by the IHSA limiting teams to two games per week.
“We have preached that this school year will be fluid, and the changes made by the board today are a good example of that,” said IHSA executive director Craig Anderson. “When the IHSA’s initial Return To Activities guidelines were established, the limitation of two contests per week felt like a constraint that would help limit exposure. However, given how well our state is handling the pandemic, and the lack of setbacks in the fall sports we have conducted so far, there was a consensus that we could move forward with allowing schools to schedule winter, spring, and summer sports without further restrictions.”
The IHSA also extended the summer season by two weeks. Baseball, softball, track and field, girls soccer and boys tennis will begin practices on April 19 and games on May 3. Practices were originally scheduled to begin on May 3. The summer season will end June 26.
“We understood that when the modified schedule for 2020-21 was released that the summer sport season coaches would take some umbrage with it,” said Anderson. “However, we also knew that summer was the season that we had the most time and flexibility to work with, so we preached patience. We are glad to be able to provide some relief by creating the option to start two weeks earlier.”
The IHSA said it is preparing for a response from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s office after sending a letter on September 10 seeking more control over its sports activities. Citing the mental and physical benefits of participation for student-athletes, the letter seeks permission for the IHSA and its Sports Medicine Advisory Committee to resume control of determining the resumption of IHSA sports and activities moving forward. The Board has asked the IHSA staff to prepare accordingly for a response to the letter by government officials and an action plan for future and continued communication with the governor’s office.
Under Pritzker’s sports guidelines, certain sports considered high or medium risk such as football, volleyball, basketball and soccer may not participate in competitive play.
“The fact of the matter is that under the leadership of Governor Pritzker, Illinois has attained one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country,” Anderson said. “When you couple that with surrounding states successfully conducting high school sports, and many non-school teams being allowed to play, it feels like the appropriate time for the IHSA to be provided the ability to reexamine our situation.”