Sports Seasons Rescheduled Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
By Patrice Nkrumah
After weeks of uncertainty, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) on July 29 announced that the high school football season will be postponed until March of 2021. The decision comes after Gov. JB Pritzker earlier in the day announced new restrictions on youth and adult recreational sports. The new restrictions by Pritzker does not apply to college or professional teams.
“The COVID-19 pandemic led the Board to propose unprecedented scheduling changes for the 2020-21 school year,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “They include playing all sports over the course of truncated fall, winter, spring and summer seasons. As a result, several team sports will shift to new seasons, including football, boys soccer, and girls volleyball moving from the fall to the spring.”
Football, girls volleyball and boys soccer will now be in the spring. Baseball, softball, girls soccer, as well as track and field, have been moved to the summer. The plan still has to be approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
“This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid,” said Anderson. “Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first. It was important that we provide a framework today for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and officials to begin preparing for the 2020-21 school year.”
Chicago Public Schools football coaches were anxious to hear from the IHSA. Football programs had been allowed to begin many of their pre-season team workouts with some strict guidelines. The number of players and coaches gathered together was limited, and each person needed to have their own hydrating source.
Now that the season has been postponed, schedules will need to be reconfigured. Some games that were previously scheduled may need to be canceled. In addition, thousands of sports officials across the state, now with their fall schedules canceled, will not only lose out economically, but will miss training clinics going into the season because of the pandemic cancelling many of them [the clinics] this summer. This could cause some issues as many officials work multiple sports in the various seasons, putting some in a position where they will have to choose which sports and games to make themselves available for [regarding] assignments in the spring.
Anderson said those school districts that will doing a full virtual class schedule will not be excluded from participating in sports. He added how he understood the decision would be praised by some and criticized by others.
“I understand that today’s [July 29] announcement will be met with mixed emotions,” said Anderson. “Our staff and Board have heard from thousands of people over the past few weeks with ideas, opinions, and proposals on how we should proceed. We respect and understand their passion, because we share in it. It is a great reminder that if we want high school sports to return to normal, we all need to do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”