The Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Board of Directors met for a special board meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2020, where the board provided the latest information on the IHSA’s winter sports season. The board voted to move the sport of wrestling from the winter season to the summer season, which will run from April 19 to June 26, 2021.
The board approved the IHSA's winter sport guidance for all low-risk sports, which include boys swimming and diving, cheerleading, dance, boys and girls bowling and girls gymnastics. These sports will be conducted from Nov. 16, 2020 to Feb. 13, 2021. The mitigating guidance for each sport will be posted on the IHSA’s COVID-19 Resource page on Oct. 29. The IHSA board will review spectator and group gatherings for all winter sports at a future meeting in November.
In addition, the board took action to follow the guidance of the IHSA Sport Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) and will allow boys and girls basketball to begin practices, per IHSA Return to Activities 2.0, on Nov. 16. Contests can begin on Nov. 30 within an Illinois COVID region or within a conference. As a part of the mitigation plan, masks will be worn by all players, coaches and officials during play.
Boys and girls basketball teams will follow team limitations allowing a maximum of 31 games. It will become a local school decision to determine if a school will allow their basketball teams to participate following the guidelines developed by the SMAC.
The board released the following statement regarding the basketball action:
"The Illinois High School Association Board of Directors made the decision today to continue with the IHSA basketball season as scheduled in 2020-21. In August, the Board slated basketball to take place from November to February based on the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) assigning a medium risk level to the sport. The IHSA Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC) offered additional mitigations, such as masks during play and social distancing on benches, that the SMAC believed would allow basketball to be played safely.
The high school basketball season was potentially put on hold on Oct. 27, when Gov. Pritzker announced that IDPH had changed basketball’s risk level from medium risk to high risk.
After diligent discussion, the Board has made the decision today to follow the recommendation of the IHSA SMAC as it relates to basketball. The Board remains considerate of rising COVID-19 cases in Illinois and understand the importance of adhering to safety guidelines for the good of all citizens. However, the Board has not been presented any causal evidence that rising COVID-19 cases make basketball more dangerous to play by the IDPH or any other health organization nationally or internationally. On the contrary, the IHSA has been looking to bordering states who have sponsored both medium risk and high risk sports in the fall that have noted a low incident rate of COVID-19 spread.
Instead, we will require all IHSA basketball teams to adhere to those SMAC mitigations, and allow local school officials to make decisions related to participation.