Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker announced new restrictions and guidelines for youth, high school and adult recreational sports on Wednesday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the news came during the governor’s press conference on COVID-19, which was moved up to earlier in the day, prior to a planned announcement by the IHSA.
Still, the association unveiled perhaps the biggest piece of news from the day — the plan for high school athletics in the fall. Football, girls’ volleyball and boys’ soccer will all be rolled into the spring sports season.
Traditionally the high school sports calendar is divided into three seasons: fall, winter and spring. The changes announced yesterday create a fourth season.
Per the Sun-Times, the fall season will run Aug. 10 to Oct. 24. It will include boys’ and girls’ golf, girls’ tennis, boys’ and girls’ cross country and girls’ swimming and diving. The winter season will run Nov. 16 to Feb. 13, and include basketball, wrestling, boys’ swimming, cheerleading, dance, bowling and girls/ gymnastics. The spring season will run from Feb. 15 to May 1, and include football, boys’ soccer, girls’ volleyball, badminton, gymnastics and water polo. The summer season, running from May 3 to June 26 will include baseball, softball, track and field, girls’ soccer, boys’ volleyball, lacrosse and boys’ tennis.
“These are incredibly important moments in the lives of our children,” Pritzker said during his press conference. “When the multi-billion-dollar sports leagues with multi-million-dollar athletes are struggling to protect their players it is obvious there won’t be enough protection for kids on our school’s playing fields.”
IHSA executive director Craig Anderson admitted that things could still change.
“This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid,” Anderson said in an IHSA release announcing the moves. “Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first. It was important that we provide a framework today for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators and officials to begin preparing for the 2020-21 school year.”
Pritzker said that the rising rates of positive COVID-19 test results played a role in the decision-making.
“It’s very painful, frankly, for all of us to make this realization,” Pritzker said. “With rising rates of spread and rising positivity rates throughout Illinois and the United States this is a situation where the toughest choice is also the safest choice.”