THE NEUTRAL ZONE
The Illinois High School Association opted to move football to the spring due to the risk of coronavirus exposure. The decision follow’s Gov. J.B. Pritzker banned the play of high contact sports like football and wrestling, as well as competitive cheer and dance. Students playing these sports are allowed to participate in no-contact practices and training, but cannot hold games. The state ranked over 40 sports by risk level and offered guidance on appropriate levels of participation for each sport. Decisions on state tournaments will be made individually by sport as each season progresses.
Sports that are considered lower risk, such as cross country, golf, and girls tennis and swimming, will continue in the fall as usual. The IHSA said approved fall sports will compete in teams with a maximum of 50 people with smaller groups distanced 30 feet apart.
Many local coaches were “ecstatic” to return to the field while also expressing “disappointment” in the IHSA process. Springfield High School Head Football Coach Roy Gully said, “I know it’s been a stressful last four and a half months for me as an adult. I can only imagine what these kids are going through and not being able to play the sports that they love.” Three Peoria-area student athletes told the Peoria Journal Star that although they would miss the traditional “Friday Night Lights,” they were grateful the season could go on eventually. Sports apparel stores, already impacted by the statewide shutdown in March, face an uncertain future as teams and fans hold on buying equipment, uniforms, and merchandise.
IHSA moves football to the spring – Chicago Sun-Times – 7/29/2020
The plan for state tournaments remains slightly up in the air. Anderson said that the chances of hosting a basketball state championship tournament at the State Farm Center in Champaign next year aren’t very good. He also warned that the dates the IHSA is shooting for are optimistic.
High School Football Moved Back To Spring After State Makes New Coronavirus Restrictions – Block Club Chicago – 7/29/2020
The rules, which go into effect Aug. 15, apply to people of all ages and cover almost all areas of athletics. The restrictions vary depending on how risky a sport is considered. For example, football is considered high-risk, meaning there can be no-contact practices and trainings but not games. Tennis, considered lower risk since players are not in close contact, can still have intra-league play as well as state- or league-championship games and meets.
The IHSA postponed three fall sports. Here’s why. – Peoria Journal Star – 7/29/2020
Notre Dame soccer coach Mike Bare said he had concerns that his sport might start in the fall and be interrupted or canceled.“A spring season is better than no season,” he said. “Moving into the spring gives us the opportunity to have games and a possibly a state tournament. We thought it would probably be (moved to) the spring. So the kids were somewhat prepared for the decision.”
Local reaction to IHSA plan is positive – Daily Herald – 7/29/2020
Friday night lights are moving from August to March this year, which promises to be a strange sight on numerous levels. But at least schools are still planning to flip the switch. When the IHSA announced Wednesday that football, boys soccer and girls volleyball are moving from a fall sport to a spring season as part of a plan to get in all high school sports in the 2020-21 school year, local reaction was generally positive.
Parents react to high school sports ruling – WCIA – 7/29/2020
A lot of families had been anxiously awaiting word on those next steps for high school sports, some wondered if there would even be a high school sports season. The clarification now means excitement for a season, even if it looks a little different. […] That sentiment was shared by parents of students of all ages. A parent of a senior football player in Fisher took it upon herself to write to the IHSA board about doing everything they can to make the season happen.