In a dramatic about-face, the Illinois High School Association last Wednesday announced plans to go ahead with boys and girls basketball as scheduled, starting the seasons on time. This comes in direct contradiction of the Governor’s and IDPH announcement just 24-hours prior, putting the season “on hold” saying: “Just like with fall sports, nothing is canceled but some tournament play is being put on hold until we’re through the thick of this pandemic.”
In a news release, the IHSA said member schools could start basketball practice on November 16 and play the first games scheduled for November 30.
As a part of the mitigation plan, masks will be worn by all players, coaches, and officials during play. Boys and girls basketball teams will follow team limitations, allowing a maximum of 31 games. It will become a local school decision to determine if a school will allow their basketball teams to participate following the guidelines developed by the SMAC.
“After diligent discussion, the board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA SMAC as it relates to basketball,” the IHSA stated in its release. “The board remains considerate of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and understand the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for the good of all citizens.
Gov. Pritzker was asked several questions about the move during his daily COVID-19 press conference last Wednesday, throwing it back on the school districts to follow his guidelines.
“We’ve told school districts what the rules are and I think they all know,” Pritzker said. “So, IHSA may have their views but school districts know what the rules are. It’s unfortunate but they would be probably be taking on legal liability. What I would suggest is that if there’s a difference of opinion, I prefer to err on the side of health and safety.”
ALAH Superintendent Shannon Cheek stated, “We don’t have any decision and won’t for a little while. Much like when we were deciding about the return to school decisions we consult with many groups and individuals before making a decision and this will be similar.” He went on to say, “We will certainly take all things into consideration when forging ahead with a decision, but we aren’t remotely close to that point yet. Excited that options and conversations can take place but not ready to comment on a decision yet.”
Brett Robinson, Cerro Gordo Superintendent said, “We have no plans to rush this and will thoroughly consider all available and relative information.”
The IHSA Board cited several challenges with postponing the season, including mental health issues, scheduling issues, athletes leaving the state to play elsewhere.