J. Thomas McNamara
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, head of the Illinois Department of Public Health, announced today that all IHSA and IESA sports can be played in regions that reach and stay within Phase 4 of IDPH COVID-19 mitigations.
Ezike, during a news conference alongside Gov. J.B. Pritzker, was asked specifically about basketball and responded, “If your region is in Phase 4, you can play basketball.”
Maroa-Forsyth’s boys basketball head coach Aaron Ennis expressed, “Great news!!! So happy and excited for our kids!!!”
Josh Jostes, his Trojans football colleague, elated, ” Couldn’t be happier for the Kids of Illinois!”
Mount Zion’s football head coach, responded, “Very excited for our players and especially our senior student-athletes. Looking forward to hearing from the IHSA, so that we can come up with the logistics of all the seasons occurring over the next few months.
Argetna-Oreana’s first year boys basketball head coach Clay Haurberg offered, “Very excited about getting back to it! This is great news for our kids!
These are the first comments I’ve received after I wrote them for their reaction to the unexpected, but obviously welcomed news.
Region 6, which encompasses the Decatur Tribune coverage area, currently is in Phase 4. This means, once schedules are established by the Illinois High School Association, that all winter, spring and summer sports can compete this school year.
This is a significant shift from the most recent IDPH guidelines, released one week ago, in which higher-risk sports — basketball, football and wrestling in the IHSA — only could engage in intra-squad scrimmages.
Shortly after Ezike’s announcement, the IDPH’s all-sports policy webpage was updated. Higher-risk sports and indoor medium-risk sports — the latter including volleyball — are allowed intra-conference and intra-region competition under Phase 4 of IDPH mitigations. Outdoor medium-risk sports — including soccer — and lower-risk sports are allowed out-of-conference and out-of-state play, tournaments and state series under Phase 4.
I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.