IHSA Seeks Dialogue with State to Save Basketball Season

Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — One meeting has led to another and the Illinois High School Association says it’s time for some dialogue.

The IHSA has invited representatives from Gov. JB Pritzker’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health to its next board meeting, Nov. 19. The IHSA hopes to save the basketball season which has been in jeopardy since the IDPH elevated basketball from medium-risk to high-risk late last month.

“The board hopes to create a dialogue and build a more collaborative relationship with all the entities involved with developing sports policy in our state as everyone tries to navigate the myriad issues caused by the pandemic,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson in a statement after Wednesday’s special board meeting concluded.

The IDPH announced basketball was high risk on Oct. 27 which designates basketball as a youth sport that cannot have competition, scrimmages or contact practices. Gov. Pritzker wants to see high high school basketball moved to the spring.

The IHSA countered the IDPH on Oct. 28 with an announcement saying it was staying on course to have its basketball season start with practice on Nov. 16 and games on Nov. 30. The IHSA board voted to give school districts the authority to let their teams play basketball.

On Oct. 29, the IHSA released its basketball mitigations which includes all players, coaches and officials wearing masks during play. The Illinois State Board of Education backed the state’s guidelines and recommended schools not go forward with a season which starts in November.

“The Board’s decision to move forward with the IHSA basketball season was not meant to be adversarial, Anderson said. “It was rooted in a desire to receive more direct communication and data from our state partners. They hope all the groups will see the mutual benefit of increased discourse and be represented at the meeting on November 19.” 

The IHSA sent out surveys to its 813 member schools asking if they wanted to play basketball on a timeline that begins in November. Of the 546 schools that responded, 300 said they didn’t plan to start the season next Monday and 212 schools were still unsure.

The IHSA says it will also seek representation at the Nov. 19 meeting from the Illinois Principals Association (IPA), the Illinois Association of School Administrators (IASA), the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE), and a coalition of nearly 200 school superintendents who recently contacted Gov. Pritzker regarding school sports during the 2020-21 school year.

Schools will be allowed to start basketball practice Nov. 16 as long as they adhere to the Level 1 mitigations from the IDPH All Sports Policy until at least November 19, the IHSA said.

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