BLOOMINGTON — High school winter sports in Illinois are unlikely to commence until sometime in 2021, the IHSA Board of Directors made clear Wednesday following a discussion update that included no official action regarding currently postponed athletics amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
A discussion update differs from a formal meeting in that actions are not taken during a discussion update. The IHSA board’s next meeting is Dec. 14.
Last week’s discussion update addressed sports deemed lower-risk in Illinois Department of Public Health guidance, which the IHSA resumed following last month after a brief break with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the IDPH.
“Given Governor Pritzker’s current mitigations, the board has no expectation of starting low-risk winter sports prior to January,” IHSA executive director Craig Anderson said in a statement. “The board and IHSA staff will continue to monitor the Tier 3 resurgence mitigation in effect currently. When there is a timeline for the state to emerge from these restrictions, the board is prepared to restart lower-risk winter sports quickly.”
The IHSA’s lower-risk winter sports are boys’ swimming and diving, competitive cheer and dance, bowling and girls’ gymnastics. No mention was made of basketball, a winter sport presently deemed higher-risk in IDPH guidelines.
In October, the IHSA announced it would allow its winter season to begin as planned on Nov. 16, though it’d be up to individual school districts and leadership groups whether or not basketball teams could compete.
On Nov. 19, the IHSA paused all happenings associated with winter sports and activities. That status hasn’t changed since.
“The board hopes to reestablish contact days in January for any winter sports that cannot begin, as well as (for) spring and summer sports,” Anderson said. “The introduction of the contact days will be based on mitigations from the governor and the Illinois Department of Public Health at that time. Further guidance on contact days limits will be established at a future board meeting.”
Anderson said the board at its Dec. 14 meeting will discuss “sports/activities state series,” as well as the latest on Pritzker’s Tier 3 mitigations.
Also up for discussion, Anderson said, are IHSA bylaws 3.022 and 4.022. Both state, in part, “(Student-athletes) shall, unless they are entering high school for the first time, have credit on the school records for 25 credit hours of high school work for the previous semester.”
Anderson closed his comments with a clear and concise message regarding winter sports’ status at this time.
“To reiterate, the board has no expectation to begin any winter sports seasons until 2021,” he said, “but will remain agile in their preparation and willingness to adapt should a window present itself sooner.”
Colin Likas is the preps coordinator at The News-Gazette. He can be reached at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @clikasNG.