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Pritzker says Illinois will not allow high school football this fall

Huntley quarterback Bruno Bosman, center, hands the ball off to Alex Janke during their Week 4 game at Cary-Grove last fall.
Huntley quarterback Bruno Bosman, center, hands the ball off to Alex Janke during their Week 4 game at Cary-Grove last fall.

In a press conference Tuesday pertaining to small business relief, Gov. J.B. Pritzker was pressed on the full resumption of high school fall sports – specifically football – in light of planned rallies scheduled this weekend advocating for the resumption of all fall sports.

"The pandemic has had an enormous impact on everybody, not to mention the health and safety people," Pritzker said. "The idea, as you know, of focusing on sports [is] not my idea; it's doctors and researchers [who] have found that sports, particularly high school sports and college sports, without the proper mitigation's, without prevention, etc. that those sports are dangerous."

Pritzker then pointed to an apparent example regarding a community college team in downstate Wayne Country. Frontier Community College has reportedly suffered an outbreak of more than 30 cases related to the school's baseball team.

"Look, I'm not willing to sacrifice people's lives or their heath," Pritzker said. "[Either] the children nor their parents would be affected also. We're being careful about it, but I am relying upon doctors and researchers to give us the information."

Pritzker downplayed the notion his decisions may be considered political, adding "I know there are people who would like me simply to make a political decision to allow people to endanger themselves."

Illinois remains one of the few states that has not resumed or reversed a decision on the resumption of a football season. Despite several neighboring states in the Midwest doing so, Pritzker appeared to refuse to budge on the stance, pointing to the state's low COVID-19 positivity rate, saying it is "still too high".

"[Other Midwest states] have all very high positivity rates; double-digit positivity rates in most," Pritzker said.

"Those are states, fine, if they decided to endanger children and families in those states by allowing certain contact sports to take place that is their decision," Pritzker said. "It’s not something that is good for the families and the children of Illinois."

The IHSA previously sent the state a letter asking for the resumption of control to make the decision for when sports may continue. There are planned rallies advocating for it in Springfield and Chicago this weekend.

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