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IHSA pauses all winter sports, doesn't take action to revise calendar

Board of Directors will meet again in early December

Bolingbrook's Darius Burford draws the foul against Joliet West's Trent Howland during a game Feb. 1 at Lewis University in Romeoville.
Bolingbrook's Darius Burford draws the foul against Joliet West's Trent Howland during a game Feb. 1 at Lewis University in Romeoville.

With the state moving to Tier-3 COVID-19 mitigations beginning Friday, the IHSA announced Thursday that all winter sports and activities will be paused.

The announcement comes two days after the IHSA said it was temporarily pausing the winter sports season for low-contact sports, which were allowed to begin practicing on Monday. Those sports are boys and girls bowling, cheer, dance, boys swimming and diving and girls gymnastics.

Now, all winter sports, including those in the low-risk category, are on hold.

Boys and girls basketball was moved to the high-risk category last month. Wrestling, a high-risk sport, already had been moved to the summer season (May 3 through June 26).

The IHSA Board of Directors said it will revisit the status of winter sports at its next meeting on December 2. The next scheduled meeting after that is Dec. 14.

“All IHSA sports and activities will cease by November 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the Governor’s mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible.”

In addition, conditioning and weight training both before and after school and open gyms are also paused. Outdoor workouts may be conducted in any sport in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing.

One-on-one skill work between a coach and student is permitted for winter sports, but limited to one coach and one student; however, coaches cannot organize non-school participation in any fashion.

Practices and competitions may be conducted virtually for activities only.

“Taking into account the current state mitigations, the Board believes that early to mid-December will be the most reasonable target to review the status of winter IHSA sports and activities,” Anderson said. “The Board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches. However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state. Despite the obstacles this unprecedented school year has presented, the Board’s vision to provide participation opportunities in all IHSA sports has not wavered.

The IHSA had invited Gov. JB Pritzker, the Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois State Board of Education and other agencies to Thursday's meeting, but representatives from the governor’s office and IDPH did not attend.

The IDPH has said the recent spike in coronavirus cases and statewide positivity rate already have surpassed the spring peak. On Thursday, the IDPH reported 14,612 new confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 and 168 additional deaths, the second straight day with more than 100 deaths reported.

The IHSA added that "adhering to the mitigations is vital to the hopes of safely playing high school sports in Illinois as soon as possible."

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