ILLINOIS, USA — On Wednesday, the Illinois High School Association, which oversees high school athletics in the state, announced the 2020 winter basketball season can begin on schedule -- in contrast to new guidelines from Gov. JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health.
On Tuesday, Pritzker and the IDPH released new guidelines for winter sports, which moved basketball into the "high risk" category, and effectively paused the season during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“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," the IHSA said in a statement.
The IHSA also said it would follow the guidance of the IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee, and require masks to be worn for all players, coaches and officials during play. Boys and girls teams will be allowed to play a max of 31 games, with in an Illinois COVID region or conference.
In the statement, the IHSA said it will be a school decision in determining if their teams will participate following these guidelines.
"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. 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," the IHSA said in response to the guidelines released by the governor IDPH on Tuesday.
"Instead, we will require all IHSA basketball teams to adhere to those SMAC mitigations, and allow local school officials to make decisions related to participation."
According to the IHSA calendar, basketball practices are scheduled to start on Nov. 16, with games allowed to be played beginning on Nov. 30.
As part of the board meeting, the IHSA also voted to move wrestling from the winter season to the summer season, which will run from Apr. 19 to Jun. 26, 2021.
You can read the entire release from the IHSA by clicking here.