IHSA to Continue Sports ‘Pause’ to Dec. 2, Perhaps Longer

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — The high school sports scene in Illinois is on pause for a while.

The Illinois High School Association announced Thursday its members have to pause all winter sports and activities to maintain compliance with the most recent mitigations issued by Governor JB Pritzker. The state of Illinois will move into Tier 3 Resurgent Mitigations at 12:01 a.m. Friday in an effort to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

Among the mitigations in Tier 3 is the suspension of indoor youth team sports activities. IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson hopes it is “a short-term pause.”

“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,” Anderson said in a statement released Thursday afternoon.

The IHSA board of directors will meet again December 2 to revisit the status of winter sports. The board’s final meeting of the calendar year is scheduled for Dec. 14, another possible date to announce any changes to a winter sports schedule.

“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,” said Anderson. “The Board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches.”

IHSA winter sports on hold are basketball, bowling, boys swimming, girls gymnastics, competitive cheer and dance. Some area coaches were hopeful the IHSA could release a new tentative schedule that could take effective when sports resume.

“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,” Anderson said. “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 ordered schools to stop their teams from conditioning, weight training or having open gyms. However it will allow outdoor workouts in any sport in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing.

Coaches are counted toward the ten. Use of sport-specific equipment is allowable with proper sanitizing practices.

The IHSA is will allow one-on-one skill work between a coach and student-athlete, permitted for winter sports only, with school approval. Teams are allowed to conduct virtual activities. 

“I still haven’t seen all the details and there will always been some questions and interpretation,” Metamora athletics director Jared Hart said of the IHSA’s temporary guidelines. “We’ll have to work through those things. There’s hope there and we are messaging that with our students.”

Area schools are still holding out hope there can be a winter sports season, even if it’s shortened and doesn’t start until January.

“They didn’t slam the door and say ‘We’re completely done, we’re not going to play basketball, we’re not going to have winter sports.’ At least we know there’s still hope out there,” said Washington athletics director Herb Knoblauch. “That ‘s what we’ll tell our athletes and parents. We are trying to keep the glass half-full.”

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