Rockford, Illinois News

High school basketball may not happen under new Illinois COVID-19 guidelines

BLOOMINGTON — The 2020-21 Illinois high school basketball season suffered another blow Tuesday after Gov. J.B. Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Public Health have elevated the risk level associated with playing the sport.

The new guidelines move basketball from the medium-risk category to high risk, meaning it can only be played in Level 4 of the state’s four-tiered plan. The governor said basketball is a high-risk sport because it is played indoor and players are in close contact, often breathing heavily.

Basketball now joins, wrestling, hockey and football in the high-risk category.

“We can’t ignore what is happening around us – because without action this could look worse than anything we saw in the spring,’’ Pritzker said.

Under previous guidelines, the IHSA was set to allow high schools to begin basketball practice Nov. 16 for the winter sports season. Officials say in spite of Tuesday’s announcement, that could still safely happen.

“We remain considerate of the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases in our state,” IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson said. “However, in our meeting with IDPH on Friday (Oct. 23), we felt that we presented multiple options that would allow for basketball to be conducted safely by IHSA schools this winter, many of which are being utilized in neighboring states who plan to play high school basketball.”

The IHSA scheduled to meet Wednesday and is expected to release its full winter sports schedule following that meeting.

“Life in a pandemic is hard for everyone,” Pritzker added, “and it’s hard for all of our kids, whether or not they play sports. That doesn’t make it any easier, but we really are in this together.”

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