Illinois Congressman Goes to Bat for High School Sports

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — An Illinois congressman is going to bat for high school athletes and coaches in his state.

Illinois state representative Darin LaHood wrote a letter to Governor JB Pritzker Thursday demanding high school sports return in full. Low-risk and medium-risk sports are restarting after a two-month layoff in Illinois. However, the Illinois Department of Public Health considers basketball and football high-risk sports so their seasons are in jeopardy.

If ‘low risk and medium risk sports’ that are played indoors have been deemed safe to resume, I am confident that schools and coaches, in consultation with local health officials and IHSA (Illinois High School Association), can find ways to move forward responsibly with all sports,” LaHood wrote in the letter. “Advanced and timely guidance from your office on all winter, spring, and fall sports is necessary to ensure appropriate planning and safety measures can be met ahead of play resuming and not create further delay for students.”

Sports like boys swimming, girls gymnastics and bowling are among the low-risk winter sports which have restarted practice this week. Boys soccer and girls volleyball are medium-risk sports that will start practice next week and begin competition next month.

LaHood, a Republican who represents the 18th district which covers Peoria and Bloomington, acknowledged the IHSA board meeting scheduled for Jan. 27. The IHSA, with guidance from the IDPH, is hoping to announce a new sports calendar for the rest of the school year.

Basketball, which was scheduled to begin in November and finish in mid-February, never started. All high school sports in Illinois were put on hold Nov. 20 when the state moved into Tier 3 Mitigations but most of the state loosened its restrictions.

Football was moved from the fall to the spring due to the pandemic. Football practice is scheduled to begin Feb. 16 with games starting in March.

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