Tentatively, high school athletes in Montgomery County and the State of Illinois will have a full slate of sports to compete in during the 2020-2021 school year, just maybe not when you’re used to them.
On Wednesday, July 29, the IHSA Board of Directors held a special meeting and submitted their plan to the Illinois Department of Health for the 2020-2021 school year, which includes shortened seasons in the fall, winter, spring and summer.
As a result, several team sports will shift to new seasons, including football, boys soccer and girls volleyball moving from the fall to the spring.
“This plan, like nearly every aspect of our current lives, remains fluid,” said IHSA Executive Director Craig Anderson. “Changes may come, and if they do, we will be agile while putting safety and students first. It was important that we provide a framework today for our student-athletes, coaches, administrators, and officials to begin preparing for the 2020-21 school year.”
IHSA boys and girls golf, girls tennis, cross country and girls swimming and diving will remain as fall sports, and can proceed to start on Aug. 10 as scheduled.
Per Governor Pritzker’s announcement on Wednesday, fall sports will begin with competition limited to conference opponents and other schools in the same general geographical area.
Schools will be provided more details in the coming week about the scheduling limits, and scheduling will continue to be assessed throughout each season.
The condensed 2020-21 season dates will be as follows: fall sports from Aug. 10 to Oct. 24; winter sports from Nov. 16 to Feb. 13; spring sports from Feb. 15 to May 1; and summer sports from May 3 to June 26. A list of sports in each season is at the end of this article.
The governor’s guidance pertains to all youth and adult recreational sports, including, but not limited to, school-based sports (IHSA and IESA), travel clubs, private leagues and clubs, recreational leagues and centers, and park district sport programs. This guidance does not pertain to professional sports leagues or college division level sports.
The press release also said that the guidance will be regularly updated as public health conditions change and new information becomes available.
The IHSA said state series tournament decisions will be made on a sport-by-sport basis as each season progresses, but providing postseason opportunities remains a priority of the IHSA board. This could potentially include culminating state series tournaments after regional or sectional rounds, or seeking other non-traditional means to conduct events.
“I understand that today’s announcement will be met with mixed emotions,” said Anderson. “Our staff and Board have heard from thousands of people over the past few weeks with ideas, opinions, and proposals on how we should proceed. We respect and understand their passion, because we share in it. It is a great reminder that if we want high school sports to return to normal, we all need to do our part to help stop the spread of COVID-19.”
The Board also extended the current Phase 4 Return To Play Guidelines, which will allow sports slated to be played in the winter, spring and summer seasons to allow an additional 20 days of contact for schools between Sept. 7 and Oct. 31 following IDPH Phase 4 Guidelines.
The Board also verified that IHSA by-laws do not prevent schools who are conducting remote learning from participating in IHSA sports and activities. Participation will remain a local school and district decision, regardless of the learning plan a high school is utilizing.
The Board discussed IHSA activities for the 2020-21 school year but did not take any action. The IHSA’s activity offerings include bass fishing, chess, debate, drama and group interpretation, individual events, journalism, music and scholastic Bowl.
“We believe we can still offer many of our activities via virtual contests,” said Anderson. “The board has asked our staff to investigate those possibilities, and we will report back soon on if and how each can be held.”
Further details on items such as sport season and practice limitations will be released to IHSA schools following IDPH approval of the plan.
IHSA Fall Season
Aug. 10 to Oct. 17
Sports: Boys Golf, Girls Golf, Girls Tennis, Boys Cross Country, Girls Cross Country, Girls Swimming and Diving.
IHSA Winter Season
Nov. 16 to Feb. 13
Sports: Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball, Wrestling, Boys Swimming and Diving, Cheerleading, Dance, Boys Bowling, Girls Bowling, Girls Gymnastics.
IHSA Spring Season
Feb. 15 to May 1
Sports: Football, Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball, Girls Badminton, Boys Gymnastics, Boys Water Polo, Girls Water Polo
IHSA Summer Season
May 3 to June 26
Sports: Baseball, Softball, Boys Track and Field, Girls Track and Field, Girls Soccer, Boys Volleyball, Boys and Girls Lacrosse, Boys Tennis.
IDPH Risk Levels
High Risk Level: Boxing, Competitive Cheer, Competitive Dance, Football, Hockey, Lacrosse, Marital Arts, Rugby, Ultimate Frisbee, Wrestling.
Medium Risk Level: Basketball, Fencing, Flag Football, 7v7 Football, Paintball, Racquetball, Soccer, Volleyball, Water Polo, Wheelchair Basketball.
Lower Risk Level: Archery, Badminton, Bowling, Climbing, Crew, Disc Golf, Scholastic Golf, Horseback Riding, Skateboarding, Tennis.
*Other Lower Risk Level: Baseball, Bass Fishing, Cross Country, Cycling, Gymnastics, Ice Skating, Ropes Courses, Sailing, Canoeing, Kayaking, Sideline Spirit, Softball, Swimming, Diving, Track and Field, Weight Lifting.
*Risk level is only low if social distancing and cleaning of equipment is conducted.
Types Of Play Levels
Level 1: No-contact practices and trainings only
Level 2: Intra-team scrimmages allowed, with parental consent for minors; no competitive play
Level 3: Intra-conference or Intra-EMS-region or intra-league play/meets only; state or league championship games/meets allowed for low-risk sports only
Level 4: Tournaments, out of conference/league play, multi-team meets, out-of-state play allowed; championship games allowed
Conditions Allow For The Following Types Of Play Per Sport Risk Level As Of July 29
• Lower-risk sports can currently play at Level 1, 2 and 3.
• Medium-risk sports can currently play at Level 1 and 2.
• Higher-risk sports can currently play at Level 1.