The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors announced this afternoon (Wednesday, Jan. 13) that all IHSA sports not operating under an official IHSA season calendar may begin to conduct contact days as soon as they are allowable per Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) mitigations and local school guidance. Contact days normally exist within the IHSA as informal voluntary offseason workouts.
Additionally, the Board reviewed several options outlining a sports schedule framework for the remainder of the school year. The Board directed the IHSA staff to take feedback from Wednesday’s meeting, as well as any insight gained in the coming weeks, and bring forward viable scheduling options for a special Board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 27. The Board will provide an update following that meeting.
Once state leadership allows for low-risk winter sports (Boys & Girls Bowling, Cheerleading, Dance, Girls Gymnastics, Boys Swimming & Diving) to begin participation, those teams will be allowed to begin practice immediately and then continue their season through the season calendar established by the Board later this month.
The IHSA successfully conducted seasons in golf, girls tennis, cross country, and girls swimming & diving through Sectional competition this fall, but all IHSA sports have been paused since November 20.
“We remain collaborative in our efforts with IDPH and the Governor’s office,” said Anderson. “We are trying to do our part to fight the pandemic, while simultaneously seeking safe participation opportunities for our student-athletes. We understand the real mental toll this pause in athletics is having on Illinois high school student-athletes. We believe that school-based athletic participation is better regulated, making it the safest participation option for our students, and more data continues to emerge supporting that stance. We will continue to share that information with state leadership in hopes that we can work together to provide participation opportunities for young people in our state.”
This is a breaking story that I will have additional thoughts and developments on in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune. Keep in mind January is almost half over and no sports have begun practices which makes it increasingly difficult for the IHSA to host all sports within the remaining months of the school calendar.