Kenwood Academy will play fall sports in spite of cancellation of football contact activities

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(Photography by Owen M. Lawson, III)

By Joseph Phillips, Crusader Sports Editor

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Kenwood Broncos football team contact activities were canceled, but some teams will play fall sports.

According to Kenwood athletic director Les Gill, the group will move forward from the cancellation of all football contact activities and will participate in approved fall sports this fall.

“Right now we are going to move forward with the approved fall sports activities in spite of football activities being cancelled and the sport being played in the spring,” said Gill, about the cancellation of football activities and the possibility of other programs playing approved fall sports activities. “Only with the guidelines that have been provided by the Illinois Department of Health, IHSA and Chicago Public Schools.”

Gill said it was unfortunate to hear that all CPS football activities would be canceled this fall but understands that safety is first. Gill believes the group will take all necessary measures to keep players, coaches, and the community safe.

“In the name of safety,” Gill said.

In spite of the cancellation of fall football activities, Gill said there were other fall sports activities that were approved according to IHSA health guidelines.

The sporting events that were approved, according to Gill, included boys and girls cross country, boys and girls golf, girls swimming and diving, girls tennis and co-ed softball.

“It’s a historical time in which we live in and it’s unfortunately a tragic situation of people losing their lives with this virus,” said Andre Lewis, head coach of the Kenwood girls basketball team who participates in winter sports activities for CPS. “And from a coach’s perspective, I just worry about those young people who are dealing with health issues, and the other side of it, many young people are losing opportunities.”

As far as winter sports, Gill had no comment about the possibility of not having a season, but Charles Tabb, head coach of the Kenwood volleyball team said it was unfortunate for student athletes who have worked really hard but will have no future opportunities.

“With the sports thing it’s like a catch 22,” said Tabb, about playing sports during COVID-19. “It’s unfortunate for the kids who are working hard.”

According to IHSA.org, the Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met virtually for their regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, September 14, where the Board approved several updates to the IHSA Return To Activities guidelines, while also providing guidance on the IHSA’s independent team participation rule for the 2020-21 school year.

The Board updated its Return To Activities guidelines by waiving the 2020-21 season limitations for winter, spring, and summer sports that would have restricted those sports to no more than two contests per week. The winter, spring, and summer seasons will now revert to their normal season game limitations as dictated by IHSA by-laws.

“We have preached that this school year will be fluid, and the changes made by the Board today are a good example of that,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “When the

IHSA’s initial Return To Activities guidelines were established, the limitation of two contests per week felt like a constraint that would help limit exposure.

However, given how well our state is handling the pandemic, and the lack of setbacks in the fall sports we have conducted so far, there was a consensus that we could move forward with allowing schools to schedule winter, spring, and summer sports without further restrictions.”

Additionally, the IHSA’s summer season will begin two weeks earlier than initially announced. With Monday’s modification, summer sports (baseball, softball, track & field, girls soccer, lacrosse, boys tennis, boys volleyball) can now begin practices on April 19, 2021, and games on May 3, 2021. “We understood that when the modified schedule for 2020-21 was released, the summer sports season coaches would take some umbrage with it,” said Anderson. “However, we also knew that summer was the season that we had the most time and flexibility to work with, so we preached patience. We are glad to be able to provide some relief by creating the option to start two weeks earlier.”

Additionally, the Board reviewed a request from Highland High School

that sought an exemption to IHSA By-law 3.100, which govern Independent Team Participation. Highland sought an exemption to the rule during 2020-21 for the sports of volleyball, lacrosse, soccer, baseball, and softball, which would allow student-athletes in those sports to simultaneously participate on their IHSA school team and on a non-school team. The current by-law prevents participation on a school and non-school team at the same time in the same sport. The

Board elected not to provide an exemption to the rule.

“There was a lengthy and spirited discussion on if we should provide an exemption to this rule, given the unprecedented nature of the school year,” said Anderson. “The Board understands both sides of the argument and has heard from passionate advocates for each scenario. Ultimately, concerns over safety and equity left them uncomfortable with providing an exemption to this rule today. They consider the matter tabled for the time being, but may revisit if there is support from the advisory committees in these respective sports.”

Anderson said that thanks to the leadership of Governor JB Pritzker, the state of Illinois has attained one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the country.

“When you couple that with surrounding states successfully conducting high school sports, and many non-school teams being allowed to play, it feels like the appropriate time for the IHSA to be provided the ability to reexamine our situation,” Anderson said.

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