IHSA to pause all sports and activities

Darren Kinnard

BLOOMINGTON — The IHSA will officially hit the pause button for all sports and activities Friday. The move will be effective the same day the most recent mitigations issued by Governor JB Pritzker will take effect.

“All IHSA sports and activities will cease by November 20 for what we hope is a short-term pause,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Given the rising COVID-19 cases in our state and region, we support the Governor’s mitigations and believe it is imperative for everyone in the state to do their part in following them so that we can return to high school sports participation as soon as possible.”

No timetable was put on the pause. The Board will discuss the status of winter sports December 2 and again at their regularly scheduled meeting December 14.

“Taking into account the current state mitigations, the Board believes that early to mid-December will be the most reasonable target to review the status of winter IHSA sports and activities,” said Anderson. “The Board is sensitive to the scheduling difficulties these delays create for athletic directors and coaches. However, our experiences this summer and fall lead us to believe that setting arbitrary start dates hinders the process even more. We realize it may seem redundant, but we have to preach patience as we await more data and direction from the state. Despite the obstacles this unprecedented school year has presented, the Board’s vision to provide participation opportunities in all IHSA sports has not wavered.”

The IHSA sent some clarifications to the schools on various topics.
* November 16 will not be recognized as the start date of the winter season, regardless if teams conducted any official tryouts or practices.

* Conditioning and weight training before and after school are paused.

* Open gyms are paused and cannot be conducted

* Outdoor workouts may be conducted in any sport in groups of 10 or less with masks and social distancing. Coaches are counted toward the 10. Sport-specific equipment is allowable with proper sanitizing practices.

* Per Tier 3 Resurgence Mitigations and with school approval, one-on-one skill work between a coach and student-athlete is permitted for winter sports only, but is limited to one coach and one student-athlete per facility.

* Practices and competitions for activities may only be conducted virtually.

* All sports organizations in the state, school or non-school, have been directed to abide by the Governor’s mitigations. IHSA coaches cannot organize non-school participation in any fashion. IHSA by-law 3.100 will be in effect once winter sport seasons begin following this pause.

Last week the IHSA invited representatives from the Governor’s office and the Illinois Department of Public Health among other state organizations to attend today’s virtual Board meeting in an effort to plot out a direction to get sports. Nobody from the Governor’s office nor the IDPH attended the meeting. Pritzker was asked at a press conference Tuesday about the IHSA meeting. He responded that his staff would be available to the IHSA. “They know where we stand.”

Late last month, Pritzker and the IDPH released stricter sports guidelines including moving basketball to a “Higher Risk” category. The next day, the IHSA announced it was going on as scheduled with the basketball season, shifting the decision about whether to play to the school administrators and boards. An overwhelming majority of schools across the state decided not to play. Tuesday, the Governor and IDPH released “Tier 3” mitigations for the state, which included a shut down of all indoor sports and activities, including youth and adult recreational sports.