IESA cancels fall sports season, no plans to reschedule

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The Illinois Elementary School Association (IESA) Board of Directors has unanimously approved to cancel the regular season and state series in several sports after a special meeting on Thursday, July 23.

The sports included in the cancellation include:

  • Golf (Boys and Girls)
  • Baseball
  • Softball
  • Cross-Country

There are currently no plans to re-schedule the activities or conduct them later in the school year. The reason given in part was if and when high schools in Illinois play their contests.

Girls’ softball practice was scheduled to start July 27. The baseball and cross-country seasons were scheduled to start on Aug. 3. The Board delayed any decision on girls’ basketball. The first day of girls’ basketball practice is scheduled for Aug. 31.

Executive Director of IESA, Steve Endlsey said to ensure the safety of student-athletes, spectators, and officials they had no other choice.

“It’s devastating for the students at the junior high level.They look forward to playing these activities, we know that, it’s our livelihood,” Endsley said. “We want kids to participate, we want to provide those opportunities for students, but it has to be done in a matter that is safe and consistent with current limitations.”

He also said he’s been at IESA over 30 years and this is the toughest decision the board has had to make.

“I have been to every board meeting in my 30 plus years, over 120 board meetings. It was by far, the most difficult decision that I have ever seen our board make.”

The Board is expected to meet again in late Aug. to make a decision regarding girls’ basketball. The Board reviewed and approved a plan submitted by the Speech Advisory Committee that allows schools to hold their own speech contest during the upcoming school year. Schools that participate in speech will be updated at a later date.

No decisions regarding any other activities were made.

“We know that there will be many people within the school system who will applaud this decision and there will be many who will be strongly opposed,” a statement from the Board read.

At the forefront of the Board decision is that the activities must be conducted within the current limitations that have been placed on the schools by the IDPH. In particular, the mandate that there can be no physical contact between athletes and that students must be socially distanced (6 ft. of separation) makes the administration and conduct of games and contests very difficult and in some cases impossible to adhere to the mandates. While there are plenty of youth league baseball and softball teams playing games and tournaments this summer, many are not adhering to the same stringent guidelines. Because summer leagues and travel ball are taking place, this may make the decision of the IESA Board of Directors seem odd. The difference is that schools will be held to the IDPH mandates and the youth summer contests are not. It would make little sense for IESA to move forward with these activities that would require schools to be in direct conflict with mandates by state agencies that have regulatory control over the schools.

IESA Board of Directors

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