BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The Illinois High School Association, on Wednesday, announced that the 2020-21 boys and girls basketball seasons will commence as planned, in spite of guidelines issued by the governor’s office recommending the sport be halted until further notice.
That means basketball is scheduled to begin Nov. 16. Wrestling, however, will be pushed to summer.
The announcement by the IHSA comes a day after Gov. J.B. Pritzker released guidelines deeming basketball and wrestling “high-risk” sports, recommending they be halted until the coronavirus situation improves.
“Mounting challenges, from increased mental health issues among our students to a shrinking calendar that limits our ability to move sport seasons this school year, were instrumental in this decision to move forward with basketball as scheduled,” the IHSA wrote in a statement on its website. “We see our students regularly leaving the state to play sports, or covertly continuing to play locally. Students can be better protected in the high school setting, and the Board remains steadfast that playing under IHSA rules and SMAC mitigation is the safest way to conduct athletics at this juncture.”
The IHSA says it will leave the decision whether to play basketball this winter up to each school district.
Pritzker responded to the IHSA plan during his daily COVID-19 update Wednesday, saying schools could risk liability issues if they choose to state guidelines.
“What we’re listening to is the guidance given by national organizations, the guidance given by physicians, particularly those that treat children and of course the experts in sports medicine,” the governor said. “What I would suggest is, if there’s a difference of opinion, I prefer to err on the side of health and safety and I think that’s where we’ve intended for all of our guidance to fall. “We’ve told school districts what the rules are and I think they all know. IHSA may have their views of it but school districts know what the rules are and it’s unfortunate, but they would probably be taking on legal liability if they moved beyond what the state has set as the mitigation standard.”