MOUNT CARMEL — There’ll be high school sports this school year, the question is when?
The Illinois High School Association had initially veered away from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Board of Education with its reopening plan — while adhering to their guidelines, but initiating their own return-to-play plan.
Just a week after releasing their plan the IDPH contacted the IHSA instructing officials that contact sports should not take place at the current time. Soon after the inquiry, the IHSA altered its plan to match the IDPH and state’s reopening plan.
Unfortunately what that means, there’ll likely be no contact sports until Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s “Restore Illinois” plan subsides.
Just yesterday Athletic Directors around the state received an email from IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson, who suggested a possible delay in fall sports — which would likely cause each sporting season to be condensed and pushed back.
“If we remain limited in our ability to offer all of our fall sports this fall, we are considering a schedule that would permit all three seasons of sport activity to be conducted during the 2020-21 school year,” Anderson detailed. “We have received numerous emails from school administration requesting this model to play out. This idea remains a priority for our staff and board. We are considering virtual competitions for many of our activities.”
The IHSA Board of Directors were scheduled to meet on Wednesday, but that meeting had since been postponed to July 29. As for why a postponement? The IHSA is scheduled to meet with IDPH and BOE officials — where a realistic timeline will likely be discussed.
For Pritzker’s plan to conclude, a vaccine is necessitated. Some reports have suggested a vaccine’s emergency approval could be made available as early as October, which could likely surface as a logical postponement date.
One concern I have is the potential for an overlap between sporting seasons, if a postponement is the route they opt for. If fall sports (in a postponed timeline) overlap with, winter sports, or even spring sports, it could take an especially taxing toll on student-athletes, and may even limit participation.
Sports have rightfully taken a back seat with so much at stake, and such concerns lingering, but it’s something to consider moving forward.