IHSA makes updates; #LetUsPlay movement gains momentum

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The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors met virtually on Monday, approving several updates to the IHSA’s Return To Activities guidelines as it continues to try and navigate athletics during uncertain times.

The IHSA updated guidelines by waiving its 2020-21 season limitations for winter, spring and summer sports that would have restricted those sports to no more than two contests per week. The winter, spring and summer seasons will now revert to normal season game limitations. 

Additionally, the IHSA’s summer season will begin two weeks earlier than initially announced. With Monday’s modification, summer sports such as baseball, softball, track, girls soccer and boys tennis can now begin practices April 19 and games May 3.

Additionally, the IHSA reviewed a request from Highland High School that sought an exemption to the rule during 2020-21 for volleyball, soccer, baseball and softball that would allow student-athletes in those sports to simultaneously participate on their school team and on a non-school team. The IHSA board elected not to provide an exemption to this rule.

The IHSA board also discussed its recent letter submitted to Gov. JB Pritzker seeking permission for the association to resume control of determining the resumption of high school sports in Illinois moving forward. 

“The fact of the matter is that under the leadership of Gov. Pritzker, Illinois has attained one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country. 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 re-examine our situation,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said.

In related news, Gov. Pritzker said Tuesday he is not willing to make a “political decision” to allow high school football to resume this fall despite steady campaigning on social media by coaches, players, parents and fans throughout the state. Football in Illinois has been moved to the spring due to coronavirus concerns.

“I know that there are people who would like me simply to make a political decision to allow people to endanger themselves,” Pritzker said.

There are #LetUsPlay rallies planned for this Saturday at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield and in Chicago, as football players, coaches and fans throughout the state petition for football to resume this fall.

Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri are among the states playing football this fall.

“If they’ve decided to endanger children and families in those states by allowing certain contact sports to take place, that’s their decision,” Pritzker said. “That’s not something that’s good for the families, the children of Illinois.”

Pritzker’s comments come after the Big 10 conference, which includes the University of Illinois and Northwestern University, reversed its earlier decision and announced that it will allow the 2020 football season to go forward starting in late October under enhanced safety protocols. The NFL also has allowed its season to go forward under safety protocols.

The Illinois Department of Public Health released its sports safety guidelines in July. Those guidelines divide various sports into three risk categories depending on the level of physical contact involved, among other factors.

Football and hockey are in the highest risk category, meaning those teams are restricted to non-contact training.

(some reporting courtesy of Capitol News Illinois)

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