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J. Thomas McNamara

     Much to the chagrin and great disappointment to all the seniors who play and compete, spring sports are in jeopardy for Illinois High School Association member schools. Gov. Pritzker’s statement last Friday afternoon about staying indoors and limiting outside activities to the necessities of life, like groceries, doctor’s appointments, picking up prescription drugs at pharmacies, getting gasoline and walking outdoors. That’s in effect until April 7, one week later than the original shutdown of March 30. As a result, my prep athletic sources are indicating there won’t be spring sports which bums out all the participating seniors. The IHSA is supporting the Illinois State Superintendent of Schools that no IHSA member school should organize their teams for any spring sport practices or games while Illinois high schools are closed through March 30. (Pritzker’s March 20 statement changes all this now).           

     “Following the best practices provided by the state health department,” the IHSA says its offices will remain closed through March 30. Staff administrators will be working from home during normal hours. During this time of mandated closure, the IHSA does not believe it is necessary or prudent for any number of students to gather for workouts, regardless of how those students gather or whether any IHSA rule is broken by said gathering.

     According to the IHSA statements, “that includes informal/player-led practices or any type of instructional session. National, state, and local governmental leaders are clear: To help our country slow the spread of this pandemic, the best thing society can do is limit its interaction with one another, so, despite how difficult this may be, the IHSA strongly recommends students, parents, and non-school coaches/trainers follow this advice. Doing so could ultimately end up salvaging the spring sports season. The IHSA has already announced several upcoming state tournament cancellations. The IHSA also provided a list of frequently asked questions with answers: (as you read these keep in mind these were written prior to last Friday’s Gov. Pritzker announcement for all residents to stay home until at least April 7)


     Q: Are schools ok to resume practice/games on March 31?

     A: March 31 remains the target date, however, there are state governmental, educational and health bodies that will need to approve this action as we get closer to it. It is too early to say definitively that IHSA activities will resume on March 31. Coaches will ultimately need to work in conjunction with their local school administration, as some school districts may choose to be more restrictive in their decisions to return teams to practice or games.


     Q: Will spring sport state tournaments be conducted on their normal dates after a shortened season, or rescheduled later in June or July?

     A: At this time, we are monitoring the updates from state educators and health professionals on the best practices related to COVID-19. If the March 30 deadline appears to be on-schedule in the coming days and weeks, we will communicate an appropriate plan on spring sports to our member schools. It is important to remember this is an unprecedented situation and will remain fluid. It is possible, for example, that schools may reopen at some point, but that other gatherings (like sports) may remain limited.


     Q: Can a student-athlete who is competing in a spring sport (baseball, softball, track, etc.) for their high school practice or play that sport with their non-school team, of the same sport, (i.e. travel or club team) while school is closed?

     A: No. IHSA by-laws do not allow a student-athlete who is in-season to participate on a club or travel team, of the same sport, and then return to play for their high school team. f a student–athlete in this situation chooses to participate with their non-school team during the school closure, they would not be able to return to their high school team if/when the high school season resumes.

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