In an unexpected decision announced by the Illinois High School Association, the governing body will be conducting boys and girls basketball seasons as previously scheduled. The announcement comes 24 hours after Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health revised their winter sports risk assessment, elevating basketball from a medium-risk to a high-risk sport.
Basketball to Take Place as Scheduled
At a special Board of Directors meeting, the decision was made to proceed with the basketball season after guidance from the IHSA Sport Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC). Teams will be allowed to start practicing on November 16 with games to begin on November 30. As part of the guidelines, players, coaches and officials will be required to wear masks at all time, even during play.
“The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors made the decision today to continue with the IHSA basketball season as scheduled in 2020-21. In August, the Board slated basketball to take place from November to February based on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) assigning a medium risk level to the sport. The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely.
Despite the IHSA making their ruling, it will be up to the local school districts to approve whether or not teams can participate.
Wrestling on the Move
After remaining in the winter sports season during the IHSA’s first shuffling of the 2020-2021 athletic calendar, the high-risk assessment for wrestling has forced the sport to delay its season until the summer. The summer season is scheduled to begin April 19 and run through late June.
Governor J.B. Pritzker reacted to the news at his daily press conference, saying, “If there’s a difference in opinion, I prefer to err on the side of health and safety and I think that’s where we have intended for all of our guidance to, to fall.”
He added, “We’ve told school districts what the rules are and I think they all know. So you know IHSA may have their, their views of it but school districts know what the rules are and I think that you know it’s unfortunate but they would be probably taking on legal liability if they went ahead and moved, you know, beyond what the state has set as the mitigation standard.”
As expected, other winter sports will also be allowed to move forward. Boys Swimming & Diving, Cheerleading, Dance, Boys & Girls Bowling, and Girls Gymnastics will all move forward with low-risk assessments.
Specific safety guidelines and fan attendance protocols will be clarified by the IHSA on October 29 and posted to its website.
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