The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors announced Wednesday (Oct. 28, 2020) that the organization will buck Gov. JB Pritzker’s latest executive order for COVID-19 mitigations and allow the playing of high school girls and boys basketball, with practices starting Nov. 16.
The board released a statement regarding the basketball action following Wednesday’s special board meeting.
“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,” officials said. “However, the board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally.
“On the contrary, the IHSA has been looking to bordering states who have sponsored both medium risk and high risk sports in the fall that have noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread.”
According to the IHSA statement, each school can decide whether it wishes to participate.
Other Winter Sports
The board voted to move the sport of wrestling from the winter season to the summer season, which will run from April 19 to June 26, 2021.
The board approved the IHSA’s winter sport guidance for all low-risk sports, which includes Boys Swimming & Diving, Cheerleading, Dance, Boys & Girls Bowling, and Girls Gymnastics.
These sports will be conducted from Nov.16, 2020, to Feb. 13, 2021. The mitigating guidance for each sport will be posted on the IHSA’s COVID-19 Resource page on Oct. 29.
The IHSA Board will review spectator and group gatherings for all winter sports at a future meeting in November.
Girls and Boys Basketball Protocols
The high school basketball season was potentially put on hold on Oct. 27, when Pritzker announced that IDPH had changed basketball’s risk level from medium risk to high risk.
On Oct. 28, the IHSA board made the decision to follow the recommendation of its own Sports Medicine Advisory Committee as it relates to basketball.
Per IHSA Return to Activities 2.0, practices begin on Nov. 16. Contests can begin on Nov. 30 within an Illinois COVID Region or within a conference.
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,” officials said.
“Mounting challenges, from increased mental health issues among our students to a shrinking calendar that limits our ability to move sport seasons this school year, were instrumental in this decision to move forward with basketball as scheduled.
“We see our students regularly leaving the state to play sports, or covertly continuing to play locally. Students can be better protected in the high school setting, and the Board remains steadfast that playing under IHSA rules and SMAC mitigation is the safest way to conduct athletics at this juncture.”
SOURCE: IHSA news release, website